Attack of the Inaccurate Meter

Since my first post-diagnosis a1c six years ago, I’ve always been under 7%, usually around 6.5%. Nearly the whole time I used the Accu-Chek Active glucose meter and its readings always corresponded with lab results. I know how to calculate an approximate a1c (50% is the average from the previous 30 days, 25% the average for the 60 days before and 25% the average blood sugar prior to 90 days) and I had never ever been surprised or shocked by what the lab said. My meter averages were always right on with my doctor’s office. I knew what my a1c would be before the blood was drawn.

Then I moved to Germany.

They don’t sell the Accu-Chek Active here, so I couldn’t get strips. They gave me an Ascensia Contour instead. My first a1c after that was 7.2, then 7.4 and most recently 7.0. The most recent two really got to me. I have been really really good the past few months! I mean really good! My meter average is 132!!! That’s the equivalent of a 6.1% a1c!!! My doctor insists there’s nothing wrong with my hemoglobin and kept on with the “sometimes you might go high for a while and not know it”, “going high just a few times can make your a1c higher”. Duh. I am very aware of my blood sugars and was right on with a1cs for over five years. I test 8 to 10 times per day, including at least once overnight every night. (What can I say… I drink a lot of water and have to pee a lot, so I’m always waking up, lol.) I simply cannot have a glucose of 300 for 6 hours or something without it showing up 2 or 3 times on my meter! (Or more. I usually test more often if I get a high number until it’s back down.) In fact, I’ve barely been over 200 at all in the past few months and then for maybe an hour at the most! (I’m dieting and it’s easier to control sugars when you only eat 1200 calories a day!) My blood sugars have simply been better than they have been for a long time.

I cried and cried after my last couple of appointments. I KNOW I DO BETTER than these tests are showing! What’s up!!!

Then I got an idea. What if my meter is wrong?! It shows ok with the control solution, but what if it’s always reading lower than it should? Last week I bought a brand new Accu-Chek Aviva meter to test it out. I got two mini packs of strips so I can do a total of 20 side-by-side tests with the Ascensia. And you know what? The Accu-Chek reads 20 to 50 points higher than the Ascensia every single time. Every single time! If Ascensia says 133, the Accu-Chek says 169. That’s an entire unit of correction bolus in difference for me! That would make a BIG difference in an a1c if I’d have been taking more insulin this whole time!

I know they say don’t compare meter to meter because some skew high, some low and none are truly accurate, but if one meter says you’re doing super and your a1c should be 6.1% and it’s actually 7.0%, THE METER MUST BE WRONG, right?! It seems pretty obvious. I will be presenting this evidence to my doc on Thursday. It proves I’m not crazy. It proves that I really was doing great… according to this meter. But it’s very depressing to think my a1c’s really have been that high. If only I’d have known!!!

This begs the question… do all Ascensia Contour meters skew the numbers to the way low side? If the lab says 130, does your Ascensia meter say you’re at 100??? Or did I just get a total lemon??? We have to feel we can trust our meters. It feels pretty bad getting scolded by your doc for a higher a1c when your meter tells you that you should be receiving a gold star!!!

Oh, I have to add that I’m stuck right now with 2 more months’ worth of stupid Ascensia test strips, so I’ll have to be guessing how much to assume my blood sugar is (do I add 20 points? 30 points? 50 points?) until the end of October. I’m praying my German insurance company will then pay for Accu-Chek strips!!!

I’m sorry to hear your having such a hard time. I was miffed when I had to get the Contour meter, because ironically it reads 30 points higher on average than my old Ultra 2 meter. My control loooks a lot worse now than it did before! Haven’t had A1c since the switch, but I’ll keep you updated. It just goes to show that the allowable accuracy required, isn’t very accurate in my opinion.

Inaccurate meters are a major pain. I was struggling with this just a few weeks ago. My BD meter seemed to consistently be high (compared to other meters and when I felt hypo symptoms). Just when I was about to throw it out the window, a new batch of sensors were delivered. The new batch were probably manufactured at a different facility (new packaging, company was recently bought out, etc.). The new batch consistently read 20 - 30 lower than the old batch of sensors. And the new batch agreed well with my other meters and how I felt. So I’m happy now with my meter and current 3-month supply of sensors.

You never know if it’s the meter or the sensors that could be the problem. But what a frustration it is.

I had the opposite problem with one of my accu-cheks. It claimed high numbers. Every time I get my blood drawn for an A1c, I test my blood sugar on my meter and they test the venous blood with their much more accurate not for home use stuff. One time my Accu-chek read 30% too high, and I switched to a different accu-chek aviva which gives me much more accurate readings.

So it’s not even consistent from one meter of the same brand/type to the next, huh? How frustrating. I know the BD meter wasn’t great. I got the one along with my MM pump and never used it because it gave me really weird readings, like “20” when I was over 100, or “347” when I was 150. Supposedly meters can be 20% off from the lab. So, 20% higher or lower, which could result in a 40-pt difference between a meter that leans high and one that leans low. You’d think they could come up with something more accurate than that. I know that at this point I’d rather have one that reads a tad high than low. As long as it’s not TOO much off. Guess we should all really make a point of taking our bg before each lab draw!