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Equipment to test blood sugar levels.

Equipment to test blood sugar levels.
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Diabetes testing and monitoring problems

3-minute read

If you have a problem using your diabetes equipment, or if it breaks or becomes faulty, refer to the manufacturer’s user manual or contact their customer care department. Your doctor, diabetes nurse or educator or pharmacist will also be able to advise you.

Blood glucose meters

Blood glucose meters can stop working properly if:

  • the meter gets old, too hot, damp, or dirty
  • the batteries need replacing or recharging
  • the testing strips get out of date
  • the calibration code is incorrect
  • you are using the wrong strip for the meter
  • there isn't enough blood on the strip
  • the strip has been put into the meter the wrong way
  • there was something sweet on your hands before you did the test

To avoid problems with your blood glucose meter:

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions on caring for and using the device correctly.
  • Before testing, wash your hands with soap then rinse and dry them, as dirt can cause an inaccurate reading.
  • Don’t use wet wipes to clean your hands since they may contain chemicals such as glycerine, which can cause an inaccurate reading.
  • Always check you have the right strip for the meter and that is has been put into the meter the right way.
  • Each time you visit your doctor or diabetes nurse or educator, use your device while there and see if the readings it gives you match the readings taken by the doctor.

Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion pumps

Also known as insulin pumps, these are becoming increasingly popular (more than 40% of younger people with type 1 diabetes are using them) and may offer better glucose control and lead to fewer diabetes complications.

Patients are usually started on insulin pumps as an inpatient in a public hospital.

Patients need to:

  • be fully introduced to their device
  • be ready and know how to reposition the cannula if it develops a kink or becomes blocked
  • continue to monitor blood glucose as though using multiple daily insulin injections

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)

When using CGM, the sensor must be removed and placed in a different part of the body once a week.

Regularly check your blood sugar level using a finger prick blood test to ensure your CGM is measuring properly (i.e. make sure the readings match).

Other equipment problems

  • Battery failure – batteries for diabetes equipment can usually be bought from any shop that sells a range of batteries. Check the meter instruction manual for the type of battery needed and how to replace it.
  • Running out of blood glucose or urine test strips – subsidised testing strips are available on the National Diabetes Services Scheme but can also be bought from a pharmacy in an emergency.
  • Incorrect readings – if you are worried that your meter is not giving correct readings, reset it by following the instructions in the user manual. If you are still worried, contact the manufacturer’s helpline.
  • Sharps disposal bin – used insulin pens and similar devices must always be disposed of safely in a ‘sharps bin’, which is available through pharmacies and your state or territory diabetes organisation. Procedures to dispose of sharps containers vary from state to state. Contact your state or territory department of health or your local council for information, or visit Safe Sharps to find a public disposal bin near you.

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Last reviewed: July 2018

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