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Blog: Diabetes blood glucose meters and monitoring

What's happening in your locality in regards to blood glucose meters and monitoring for diabetes? Are there people in the CCG telling you what you can and cannot give out to patients, and which test strips and devices are within the correct price range? How is this being handled, and how do you deal with this when talking to your patients? How do your patients feel about this I wonder?

In my current role as a community diabetes specialist nurse, I am involved in the decision making process to decide on which meters to recommend to the surgeries within our CCG network. It is becoming apparent that there are many factors we have to consider, apart from the cost of the test strips, even though that is an important factor. Do the components of the devices involved meet the ISO standards? How patient friendly is the meter? What proportion of our diabetes population would find the meter met their needs? How involved are patients in this decision making process?

It can be overwhelming at times to deal with the huge variety of meters that are now available, and somehow there does need to be a way of limiting what you have to deal with. How many times has someone with diabetes come into your surgery and told you about their new blood glucose meter, but then asked in the same breath if you can help them to start using it? Then you have to take out the instructions and see if you can work it out and then demonstrate the meter to them?

Another important aspect of all this is, why is the person actually testing their blood sugars? It doesn't take long to find all those who test their blood sugars, know that they are either “high” or “low”, but then make no changes as a result of what they find. Or of course those who test but have no idea at all what the readings mean.

No one should be stopped from monitoring their own blood sugars, but if they express an interest, it is vital to educate them on how to monitor correctly, to find out why they are monitoring, and then explain to them whether monitoring will help in that particular aspect of their care. For some monitoring helps them to take ownership of their diabetes and empowers them to better manage their diabetes; even then they will need guidance on what they are doing.

Diabetes UK have a very useful booklet called Meds and Kits, which comes out with the “Update” journal, and informs healthcare professionals of what is available in terms of devices, including Insulin Pens, Insulin Pumps, blood glucose monitoring devices etc, as well as all the different medications available for both type 1 and type 2 Diabetes. This can be downloaded via the following link:

This is is not only helpful for healthcare professionals, but also those who have diabetes. In my mind it is an extremely useful resource, and should be readily available for all GPs and Nurses prescribing for patients with diabetes. So often I have had colleagues ask me which test strips are suitable for use with certain meters. This is the ideal tool, which could be downloaded to their favourites on their bookmarks. As it has illustrations of every device it mentions, you can check out whether it is exactly what you are looking for.