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How Accurate Are Home Glucose Monitors?

How Accurate Are Home Glucose Monitors?

Diabetic patients live a rather perilous life. Every day, they need to walk through a precarious balance of what is allowed and what is not. They need to make sure that their health is still within the bounds of the normal health standard. Their sugar level should be constantly and accurately checked so as not to imperil their lives. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 11 million diabetics using home glucose monitors. This tool may be insignificant to some but this is one of the lifeblood of the diabetics.  In 2005 alone sales for this medical device ranged between $5 to $7 billion US dollars. But are these home glucose monitors really reliable as to properly guide these patients who are in dire need to have an accurate blood sugar reading?

What are Glucometers?

Home Glucose Monitors or generally known as a glucometer is a medical device used to determine the approximate concentration of glucose in the blood. It is a key element of home blood glucose monitoring (HBGM) by people with diabetes mellitus or hypoglycemia.

Glucose Meter Comparison Chart Example

Click the image below to see the full size chart
Glucose Meter Comparison Chart from Sure Test Supplies

Accuracy of Home Glucose Monitors

The word accuracy is relative. It is therefore, critical that it should be operationally defined. In the case of diabetes using the home monitors, there is a need to distinguish whether what is being measured is the plasma glucose or blood glucose. This is one of the considerations in determining the accuracy of the device. By measurement, according to ISO 15197 blood glucose monitors must provide results that are within 20% of a laboratory standard 95% of the time.  Thus, Food and Drug Administration allows the device to be wrong by as much as 20%. While this is academically sound, this wide rate of error makes a diabetic susceptible to severe health problems like seizures and coma.