Diabetes Management: Glucose Meters & Test Strip Safety

African American holding diabetes glucose meter with test stripUsing a glucose meter to monitor blood glucose levels is an important part of diabetes management. Generally, blood glucose should be monitored two to four times a day, either before meals or two hours after meals and at bedtime. But each case is unique.

Proper storage and handling of your test strips and meter is essential for accurate results.

The following information will help you monitor blood glucose accurately and safely.

Pre-Owned Test Strips

Second hand or pre-owned test strips may be sold at a lower price when compared to new strips. However, they may not be a real bargain. That’s because pre-owned strips can give incorrect results—and may not be safe to use with your device. Here’s why:

Test strips should be properly stored to give accurate results. “If you are using previously owned strips you do not know if they were stored at the right temperatures,” says Dacia Bryant, Founder and Chief Health Officer at A ONE C LifeBox, a digital healthcare engagement company that equips Black and Hispanic people with the tools to manage their diabetes more effectively.

“If they are not stored at the recommended temperatures between 36°F to 86°F the results may be higher or lower than the actual blood glucose. This leads to possibly adjusting insulin or medication doses based on an incorrect result,” says Bryant, who is also a pharmacist and certified diabetes educator. An incorrect result can put you at risk for serious health complications – and even death.

Test strips also could be expired. Pre-owned test strip vials may have been tampered with, which means that they may not be safe to use. Expiration dates might have been changed, or the vial may have been opened. Once a vial is opened and exposed to air, the countdown to test strips going bad begins,” says Bryant.