Is Your Blood Sugar Meter Accurate?

David Mendosa reviewed some reviews on home blood glucose monitor accuracy and reproducibility.  He was motivated by a recent review in Consumer Reports.  You’ll want to click through his links for details.  The last time I looked into this, I learned that a device could receive FDA approval if it could measure accuracy to within 20% of the actual blood sugar value as determined by a laboratory machine.  For a blood sugar of 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l), the home device could give you a value anywhere between 160 and 240 mg/dl (8.9 to 13.3 mmol/l).  That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?




Filed under Uncategorized

11 responses to “Is Your Blood Sugar Meter Accurate?

  1. Yes, and even worse yet is how well the meter reads only glucose D accurately and not any other goof ball sugars that are circulating in your blood system due to way liver processes the trick sugars. My body flings them out in my blood system for some extra passes thru liver/kidneys to crack.

    The nonsense peddled that that is not supposed to happen is ridiculous.
    I ended up trying meters until I found those that were not thrown off 40 to 100 points after a digestion cycle.

    In addition, moisture/water content, hemocratic and oxygen content can also swing meters off as well. They ARE NOT ALL THE SAME and the idiotic manuals and specs supplied with these meters are a travesty wasting time on trivia as specs and deleting the real meat to allow a discerning person to make rational comparisons.

    Present specs typically list ony batterty holder and other non revelent details. The FDA should be upbraided over this approach.

  2. frank weir

    But then again I think type ones need much more accuracy than type two’s. Type twos are better off i think buying the in home A1c tests so they know that reading every two or three months instead of twice a year at a doctor check up instead of worrying about meter accuracy. If my A1c creeps up and I can’t get it down, I know I need to tighten up on my low carb eating and exercise…or even ask the doctor about insulin or extra medication. In addition, we all would like better meter accuracy but at what cost? Strips are expensive now with a 20 percent accuracy standard. A higher standard but greatly increased cost would probably prevent more diabetics from testing at all so that would be counter productive. They’d be better off with less accuracy but at least affordable. Seems like economics issues always have to be considered when talking about health services and products.

    • Frank, thanks for the comment. I hadn’t thought about the economic issue, but you’re right about it. The type 2’s who especially need the meters are those taking drugs with the potential to cause hypoglycemia.
      If I had to choose between having type 1 or 2, I’d go with Door No. 2.


  3. No offense to Frank BUT if Japan took that attitude we would never had VCRS, DVD’s, camerars and digital cameras instead of film camera’s.

    Yes economics need always to be considered but sometimes those end up being arguments for shipping sloppy inadequate equipment that if built in the volumes of the products I mention would see much better improvements.

    The numbers of type 1 and 2 is enormous and should provide the volumes to provide an excellent low cost – cost effective accurate caveman fingerprick machine equally usable by both camps.

    There is no need for sophistry to explain inaction and slugish improvement otherwise we would never have smart phones, apple I phones etc.

    • Physicians and nurses in the hospital (and paramedics in ambulances) use the portable fingerstick devices all the time. If we question the result, what do we do? Draw blood from a vein and send it to the lab to be run on the large chemistry analyzer machine. I’m not familiar with the chemical technique used by those analyzers, but I bet it’s different from the portable meters. The analyzers in the lab are considered the gold standard. And much more expensive I’m sure.


      • Dr. Parker:

        I apologize if my comments seemed agressive. You are right about improvements over time and in the hospital environment, you have the lab – gold standard to cross-check.

        Unfortunately in a hospital environment some good folks lost their life when folks relied on some PQQ strip hand held technology on diaylisis
        patients and believed the result. Nobody went back to your gold standard.

        We at home do not have fast access to that gold standard cross check and rely on the hand held for consistent reliable numbers. It was then the FDA said oh – ok , no hospital use for offending gear but can stilll be used in home environment. No offense but I find that unacceptable to this 30 year plus type 2 who nearly rotted out and spent getting under control in last 4 years and having to spend excessive funds on questionable gear I had to spend many hours debugging water, hemocratic and oxygen issues to find meters that gave reliable repeatable results on my body.

        No thanks to the useless specs supplied with same meters and I had to skulk around web to get definitive comparison data.

        My point was that the agressive volume based computer/electronics industry has driven incredible gains in performance and lower costs from my early days of the 70’s where today people are routinely packing around compute horsepower in their hands and purses that used to be 2 tons with huge air conditioners.

        Thank you for your column and all the excellent comment and help provided.

      • frank weir

        Hi Jim! I like reading your comments and its great to have a dialog. I always learn! I would like to say, though, that your reasoning reminds me of that old saw: “If they can put a man on the moon, why the heck can’t they (fill in the blank)?” Advances in personal computing technology don’t necessarily mean that glucose meters should have a 5% error tolerance and be as cheap as they are now or more so. I would think this is an apples and oranges comparison. I mean my comments respectfully of course! I always read your comments on Dr. Parker’s posts.

      • Jim, no apology needed.
        You reminded me of those old punch cards they used to feed into computers. Yeah, they were very sensitive to temperature and dust. 1974?
        Dr. Richard Bernstein keeps up better than I with the meter technology. In his books, he mentions anyone can get his latest device recommendation by calling his office in New York: 914-698-7525.

  4. No kidding Dr. Parker: My computer career/programming started in the late 60’s with IBM 7040 plus IBM 26/29 key punches just as the early 2 ton monster disk drives with magnetic and hydraulic positioners with oil catch pans on the floor like one put on the garage floor to catch dripping oil.

    This was the days of DEC PDP 8’s, 12’s, 15’s and PDP 10’s, Datagen as well as the time of IBM and the seven dwarfs – Univac, Boroughs, GE, CDC STar and their ilk. IBM grew at the rate of one Sperry Univac every year.

    I apologize for my enthusiasm for progress which I truly believe is possible.

    On another note as always, I thank you for your excellent web site that I find myself sharing with friends and folks who are type 2 – amazing I cannot turn around out there without bumping into someone who is fighting this monster. WHile not scientific, it sure seems this scourage is far more wide spread than originally thought or originally suggested.

    Tools like Mediterranean diets and thinking really are key tools in the arsenal of the type 2 fighting this problem.

    Thank you.