ADA Poster News: Glucose Meter Memories Fail the Help Test

Research_posters One entire section of the ADA Conference Expo is set aside every year for hundreds of oversized research posters that companies and clinics use to summarize their latest research results. Not particularly decorative posters, but sheets from 3-by-4-feet all the way up to 4′x8′ packed with diagrams and numerical data. If you can stand to decipher them, they’re fascinating. Since I was on the hunt for accuracy data on new continuous glucose monitors, I ventured into the long halls of poster-land and found some unexpected stuff.

A new study by Dr. Irl Hirsch (of Standard
research fame) et al shows that the Memory Function on traditional
glucose meters is NOT HELPING patients recognize patterns — for the simple
reason that most people aren’t setting the date and time correctly on their
meters, so the stored data is all askew. A study involving 270 patients, a mix
of Type 1 and Type 2, showed that 21.2% of their meter times were incorrect,
while 24% of the dates were flawed as well. Here’s the breakdown:
- Roche meters were worst off, with 50% of the time and date stamps being wrong (apparently their models are particularly difficult to set
correct time & date)
- Next were Bayer meters, with 48% off-timing
Then LifeScan meters at 30% time/date error rate
- Abbott Diabetes meters at 29.2%
- and the winner is:
Becton Dickinson (BD) meters at just 15% time/date innaccuracy rate
This is all about USER ERROR, mind you, since we
patient types are tasked with setting the date and time on our meters. But the
results suggest that date and time may just be too complicated to fiddle with on
most meters. Or it may be that “different populations of patients use different
meter types (e.g., more patients using insulin pumps use the BD meter),” the
study notes. In either case, the doctors draw two important conclusions

1) the diabetes community is becoming more dependent on glucose meter downloading, due to an increase in home blood glucose testing and the introduction of real-time continuous glucose sensors, so it’s more important than ever to correct this problem soon

2) a greater emphasis could be made to educate patients about date and
time accuracy, but “a better solution would be to have the blood glucose meter
industry make a greater effort to have the date and time set appropriately prior
to use by the patient
Yes, make it easy and we will get it right. Right?

4 Responses

  1. Monika
    Monika June 17, 2006 at 9:25 am | | Reply

    Ok for a certified ‘testing’ obsessive this really is my worst nightmare. SO….I read this and then doubled checked my meter. ~sigh of relief~ Guess I am smarter then what I’m dealing with. Thanks for the heads up…..and I LOVE your site!

  2. Megan
    Megan June 17, 2006 at 9:48 am | | Reply

    When I got my pump the first time you put a battery in you are guided through setting the time and date before you can do anything else with it. I’m not surprised Abbott is in 2nd place, since they also work with pump companies (Omnipod and Cozmo). Why can’t glucose meters guide you through this also?

  3. Nick
    Nick June 17, 2006 at 1:50 pm | | Reply

    My Accucheck Complete does a bunch of fancy data analysis. I never use it. The only thing I use is recalling BG readings from memory. Then I put the readings into a spreadsheet that calculates averages,standard deviation, and other statistics. I don’t even use a data cable for the meter.

    Like you, Amy, I’m interested in a monitor that measures my BG ***automatically*** every few minutes.

  4. Kassie
    Kassie June 20, 2006 at 5:23 am | | Reply

    I read this elsewhere recently and actually laughed because when I was asked last year what features I really wanted on my meter, the only thing that came to mind was easy-to-set time!!

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