Significant Errors In Insulin Dose Can Result When Blood Glucose Meters Are Miscoded

Armen Hareyan's picture
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When persons with diabetes use miscoded blood glucose meters to determine how much insulin to take, significant errors in insulin dose can result that may potentially lead to short- and long-term health complications, according to findings of a new study presented at the Sixth Annual Diabetes Technology Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that there are 14.6 million children and adults diagnosed with diabetes in the United States, of which an estimated 4.4 million, or 30%, require insulin to manage their disease. Those who require insulin must closely monitor their blood sugar with a blood glucose meter to plan their meals, exercise regimens and insulin dosage.

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In this study, for certain miscoded meters, the probability of insulin error of plus or minus 2 units of insulin was 50% as compared to 8% for correctly, manually coded meters. The probability of insulin dose error of plus or minus 3 units of insulin was 23% for the miscoded meters but only 0.5% for the manually correctly coded meters.

Coding is the process by which a blood glucose meter is matched to each new box of test strips being used. This is done either by inserting a code strip or code chip into the meter, or by entering a code number into the meter. If this step is not performed, the meter may give inaccurate results leading to wrong therapy. For example, relying on a miscoded blood glucose meter to determine how much insulin to take can result in a potentially harmful overdose. Insulin overdose may cause dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) leading to behavioral changes, confusion, loss of consciousness and, if untreated, seizure, coma and even death. Chronic under-dosing of insulin may contribute to the long-term health problems associated with high blood sugar including kidney disease, nerve disease, eye problems, and heart disease.

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