I have recently read on several forums people saying that they change the lancet in their blood drawing device once a week, once a month, as they change to a new vial of strips (thus, probably after 50 tests), or almost never. This makes me cringe for several reasons.
OK, I admit that I know of no one who actually uses a new lancet each time he or she tests, even though that is what doctors recommend. I also admit that I, myself, change my lancet only once or twice a day (thus, after every 8 - 12 tests). After 50+ years of being diabetic, I understand why people test the way they do. We don’t bother to change the lancet because we are busy and are doing the test quickly, we don’t happen to have a new lancet with us, or we don’t want to change due to cost restrictions.
However, I beg you to please, please, please be aware of the advantages of changing that lancet more often. First (and foremost), do this for your own health and comfort. I won’t preach about cleanliness, but I will speak from experience from decades of testing. Each time you use a lancet for a test, the tip of the lancet curls and the surface gets pitted or “roughed-up” for lack of a better term. After half a dozen tests, the tip is completely curled under, and piercing the skin becomes more difficult, resulting in a bigger hole in your fingertip. Of course, this curled tip also results in a more painful test as more pressure and area are needed to poke through the skin. Using a lancet for days on end will result in more tissue damage and more painful tests as time goes by. After 50+ years of tests, my fingertips are irrevocably damaged. Changing a lancet at least once a day will help you avoid such damage.
Secondly, lancets generally come in boxes of 100, so if I change my lancet just once a day, a box of 100 will last me over three months. I use Freestyle lancets which I can buy for anywhere from $11.00 - $15.00 a box. Even if I were to pay full price for them – which I never do since my insurance covers 80% of the cost – I would only pay $60.00 per year. Compared to the rest of my diabetic supplies, that is a small price to pay to avoid tissue damage and to have a more comfortable test.
I am not a doctor, so I have no idea if using a lancet multiple times has any affect on the accuracy of the blood test results. I would suspect that a “dirty” lancet may eventually do so, but I have no data or proof of that.
However, as a fellow T1 diabetic, I urge you to please consider changing your habits (if you need to) by changing your lancets more often. Living with diabetes is tough enough, and if this simple act will save you both from pain and from future tissue damage, then this small change is worth it.