A recent experience with one of my patients prompted me towrite this cautionary tale about how using bad glucometer test strips couldpotentially lead to serious problems.
Harry had been on my diabetic jump start program forseveral weeks and we were trying to get his blood sugars into an acceptablerange. He was doing all the right things: he was faithfully following thediet plan I had given him, taking his medication properly, and exercisingregularly. Still, he was getting very high glucose readings when he did hisglucometer testing at home.
Something wasnt adding up. I was concerned aboutHarrys high glucose readings, but I was reluctant to raise the dosage of hismedication because I knew that he should be getting very different results afterfollowing the program for several weeks. At the beginning of the program I hadchecked his glucometer and it was working properly. As we discussed the case,it turned out that Harry had recently purchased new test strips. I asked himto go back to the pharmacy where he had purchased the glucometer and strips tobe sure they were working properly.
The glucometer was fine, but when Harry contacted thecompany that made the test strips, he learned that the batch he had purchasedhad been recalled because they were contaminated. The contaminated stripswould give inaccurate glucose readings and were to be returned to the company ordiscarded immediately. When Harry bought new test strips, his glucosereadings were suddenly within the target areas we were hoping for.
After this episode, I went online to research this furtherand found an FDA press release dated December 16, 2006 at regarding counterfeit test strips. The article states that, The counterfeittest strips potentially could give incorrect blood glucose values--either toohigh or too low--which might result in a patient taking either too much ortoo little insulin and lead to serious injury or death.
The lesson in this? Always be sure that your glucometerand test strips are working properly. Keep your doctor informed and let himor her know if the test results you are getting dont seem to be accurate. Aphysician who is simply looking at blood sugar test results could easily bemisled into improperly altering your medication if you do not express yourconcerns about their accuracy, and that could lead to very seriousconsequences for your health.