Miscoded BG Meters Can Lead to Insulin Errors

On November 6, 2006, Bayer HealthCare issued a news release that addressed the issue of miscoded blood glucose meters.

Bayer wrote, “When persons with diabetes use miscoded blood glucose meters to determine how much insulin to take, significant errors in insulin dose can result that may potentially lead to short- and long-term health complications, according to findings of a new study presented at the Sixth Annual Diabetes Technology Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.”

According to the study, “For certain miscoded meters, the probability of insulin error of plus or minus 2 units of insulin was 50 percent as compared to 8 percent for correctly, manually coded meters. The probability of insulin dose error of plus or minus 3 units of insulin was 23 percent for the miscoded meters, but only 0.5 percent for the manually correctly coded meters.”

What is Coding?

According to Bayer Healthcare, “coding is the process by which a blood glucose meter is matched to each new box of test strips being used. This is done either by inserting a code strip or code chip into the meter, or by entering a code number into the meter. If this step is not performed, the meter may give inaccurate results leading to wrong therapy. For example, relying on a miscoded blood glucose meter to determine how much insulin to take can result in a potentially harmful overdose or underdose.”

Bayer, according to the study, also showed that auto-coded meters (meters that automatically set the correct code any time a test strip is inserted) gave more accurate blood glucose values than meters that had been correctly coded manually. This also translated into a lower probability of insulin dose error. For manually coded meters, the probability of plus or minus 1 unit and plus or minus 2 units of insulin could be as high as 35.4 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. However, with the auto-coded meters, there were no calculated insulin dose errors above plus or minus 2 units.

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