Any problems with changing brands of blood glucose meters?
December 12, 2013 11:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm a person with diabetes and I have my blood glucose data going back for more than a year. If I change blood glucose meters now will I still have a basis for comparison with my old data?

YANMD. I use a Freestyle Lite blood glucose meter to measure my blood glucose level because that is the meter my endocrinologist gave me when I was diagnosed more than a year ago. My old health insurance covered Freestyle test strips, but my new health insurance does not cover Freestyle test strips. However, my new insurance will cover Accu-Chek test strips.

If I switch to Accu-Chek test strips will I have a basis for comparison with my older data or would I have to apply some type of calibration curve to my new meter readings to compare them to my old readings?
posted by Rob Rockets to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
As a Type II diabetic, I wouldn't worry about it. My understanding is that the meters are extremely exact, merely good enough to give you a general idea. So as long as you're consistently fairly close to your marks, you should be fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:25 AM on December 12, 2013

I had to do the exact same switch recently. Unfortunately, here's a potential problem. While I don't keep track of test strip lot numbers, I've seen a little evidence that this might have affected my data.

For what it's worth, as far as I've ever been able to tell, target numbers remain the same regardless of glucometer brand. I've always assumed that means (other than the situation linked above) no data calibration is needed, and I've never been told otherwise by any of the medical professionals I've seen.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2013

If you can get enough extra test strips, could you try using both meters for a few days? This would give you an idea of how your new glucometer compares. When I had to switch some time ago, it was the other way round (Accu-Chek to Freestyle) and the results were close enough to make no difference really.
posted by in278s at 11:41 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Brandon Blatcher's right about "merely good enough". I was looking at the info sheet for an Accu-chek meter the other day, and it has better accuracy at gauging lows than highs, but only claims 99% confidence for +/- 20 mg/dL, which I assume is a regulatory standard. The info sheet with a box of strips has all this data.

Most T1s in my acquaintance seem happy to mix and match meters and strips, given the shittiness of insurers towards test strip prescriptions and their different preferred brands. They'll take whatever's available and cheap. Your A1c is going to be a better guide to long-term trends than historical meter readings, in any case, and you don't really need to apply a calibration curve to assess daily highs and lows.
posted by holgate at 12:10 PM on December 12, 2013

The lack of test strip accuracy is already controversial enough. You don't need more stress. Be aware though that your new AccuChek meters may measure slightly off (up or down) from the Freestyle, but there's no way of knowing which one is actually closer to accurate. I suggest that for two days' running, you test using both meters upon waking and before/after meals (however, and as often, as you normally test) and compare them. You won't know which is "right" -- though at first you'll feel like your old Freestyle meter is right, just out of familiarity.

The most I've found when changing meter brands is a difference of 20 mg/dL. Since I aim to keep tight control (85-115 mg/dL) prior to meals, that freaked me out a bit, but if it's any consolation, I've found that AccuChek (Aviva) is by far the most accurate-seeming of any meters, and reflects what I see on my A1C every three months.

T2, two+ years, FWIW.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:08 PM on December 12, 2013

I've been T1 for about ten years. I don't have any advanced knowledge or anything, but based on everything I've read about glucometers, I would not be overly concerned.
posted by chinston at 7:13 PM on December 12, 2013

I've found it useful to track my readings on a smartphone app. I use the blood sugar tracker from Healthy Cloud. It's been simple and straightforward, and I've used it with a few different meters without worrying about losing data. (I suppose this wouldn't address your direct concern about losing the old data, but it could be of help to you moving forward.)
posted by cheapskatebay at 7:18 AM on December 13, 2013

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