Friday, January 25, 2013

Testing the meters for a change

I'm THAT person. The one who questions her meter on a constant basis. I never trust these things fully and completely. Who does though? You can test multiple times on the same meter at the same time and get a different result each time. It's literally like a stab in the dark! (pun intended). These numbers determine down to a fraction of a unit of how much insulin I take. A difference of a unit is a rather big deal, especially for children. I never really know what to believe. I realize there are a multitude of factors that effect each and every test.

Once I was curious so I tested my blood with my regular unclean hands. Then I used an alcohol swab on the same finger and tested again. Finally I washed my hands and tested a final time. The number came down with each step. Moral of the story? Always wash your hands and don't trust alcohol swabs to do anything.

Recently I put my meters to the test at my last blood draw.

I collected all the somewhat newer meters in my possession. It actually took some pre-planning because I had to go out and buy strips for them all. I had to get some new batteries as I had scavenged them for half decent batteries. Then I had to make sure the ones that needed charging were charged.

From Left to Right: Abbot InsuLinx, Bayer Contour USB, One Touch VerioIQ, Abbot Freestyle Lite x2, Bayer Contour, Abbot Precision Xtra (with blood ketone testing capabilities.)

Here they are all ready to go. Now I will say that maybe this wasn't the best time to put my meters to the test. I could feel my beeg tanking as I was walking back to my car after the blood draw. I tried to get my shit in order but I was definitely going low so that may have fucked up the results. It was a good 5 minutes between blood draw and meter line-up. I used the same big drop of blood for all the meters.

Freestyle Lite

Freestyle InsuLinx

Contour USB


Precision Xtra


SO.... I'm not giving away the results just yet.

I was sent the VerioIQ to review last year some time (yup, another post with lost images). I think I pissed someone off because that is one of my most highly read posts. The week that I was using it, I put it up against the other two meters I was using regularly. The Contour USB and the Freestyle Lite. I discovered that, in my experience that week, the VerioIQ was constantly about 1.8mmol/l (32mg/dl) HIGHER than the USB and the Freestyle was always in between the two. I didn't trust the Verio because there were a few times I was definitely low and it would give me normal readings while the other two were more reflective of what I was actually feeling. Perhaps the Verio just wasn't all that precise on the lower end of the scale. Either way I decided it was not for me and so I switched to full-time use on the Freestyle and have been extra happy with it ever since. 

However on this day my test results kind of took me for a spin. I was on my way to low town. I knew I wasn't crashing so hard I couldn't sit up but I was skirting the edge of the precipice of lowdome.

The LAB result was 4.3mmol/l. Add in the bit of time it took me to pee all over my hands instead of in a cup and get out to my car maybe about 5 minutes. PLUS I was sort of low. In my diabetes expertise of how I felt I would guess I felt about 3.6 or 3.8mmol/l. That leaves me back with the Bayer Contour meters because both the USB and the Contour read 4.2mmol/l. That's fairly consistent.  Realizing if I had done a re-test right there I probably would have gotten different numbers. All of the Abbot meters and the VerioIQ were registering a higher number than what I felt. I wouldn't use the Precision Xtra meters on a regular basis because their strips come in individual packages which would drive me insane. They're strictly my blood ketone meters but I didn't see the problem bringing them along for the ride.

Needless to say, it all sort of leaves me even more dizzy. I am dedicated to the Freestyle Lite but it seems the Bayer meters were more accurate. I know there's no way to really truly know but my personal preference is still the Freestyle Lite. I refuse to use a meter without a strip light or an illuminated screen. The VerioIQ is still one of the last meters I'll ever use.

Perhaps the Bayer meters are more accurate on the lower end. I'll never know.


  1. I think a more valid comparison would be to do multiple tests with the SAME meter at the same time (well, as close as possible). See how much variance there is from one to the next.

    I think the consistency of my Bayer ContourLink is the reason it tends to match my CGM so often. Otherwise, if the meter varies 20% from one reading to the next, how can you expect it to match, and what exactly would that mean anyway?

    It's still interesting to see these comparisons though; and (unfortunately) any of these comparison tests could get quite expensive.

    1. There are so many test we could do and never really come up with an answer.
      I'm going to do that next time, test multiple times on each meter.

  2. The FDA here in the US says "within 20% variance." That scares the pants off of me becuase, for me, 20% is a lot...and yes, so is the difference between 1u and 2u!

  3. Wow, a great experiment that I always wanted to do but was too cheap to buy all the different test strips. I agree with your preference for the Freestyle meter. That has been my favorite during the 3 years I've had T1 and I was devastated when my insurance stopped covering Freestyle. I am not a fan of the Bayer Contour or the Bayer USB. When I compared them to my Freestyle, they were consistently off. So I was glad when my insurance changed my coverage from Bayer to cover the Accu-chek brand. I use the Nano now and it seems pretty accurate. But I still miss my Freestyle with the light up test strip port!!!

  4. I've been doing this with our one touch meter and our PDM which uses the freestyle strips. There's an issue with the freestyle that causes them to give results much lower when you use the proper code, which is 16. If you use 17 or in my case, 18, the results are a lot closer to the one touch, which has been our tried and true. In fact, the other day when I tested all three codes, the 16 (the one we're supposed to use), came out almost 100 points LOWER than the one touch.

    I talked about it with Elise's endo yesterday and her advice was to, "let it go, or else you will make yourself nuts. It sucks, but that's what we have to work with."

    It makes me want to yell at someone until they fix it.

  5. I read Dr Richard Bernstein's Diabetes Solution many years ago and he strongly recommended Bayer Meters.

    The interest thing is Bayer Diabetes is rumored to be up for sale. Will the new owner uphold the same standards?

  6. I can never decide if I should be using my Freestyle or One Touch, but my One Touch can give me 3 totally different reading in a one minute span while the Freestyle is more consistent. I just don't know if I trust the Freestyle (Omnipod PDM) to be accurate on the code that's recommended. I might have to bring both meters to my next lab draw just to see what happens. Maybe if I go during the slow time, I can just sit in the lab chair and test over and over...


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