Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Strip Safely: It's important

Did you know that the strips you use in your blood sugar monitor could be up to 20% inaccurate?  Or more?  Under FDA guidelines, a 20% range is considered acceptable.  That means if your child has a blood sugar of 300, it could actually be anywhere between 240 and 360.  If your meter shows a blood sugar of 400, it could actually be anywhere between 320 and 480.  Especially scary because WE DOSE OFF THESE NUMBERS!

Action is being taken to change this.  The Strip Safely Campaign has arrived.  (I know the name is scandalous, but it gets your attention, right?)  Please go to the website HERE to learn more.  Take the quiz.  Read what it's all about and then write your own letter to the powers that be.  It's time to raise our voices.  It's time to make a difference.  All our letters can, and will make that difference.  Our children, our friends, our family, deserve accuracy when using blood sugar monitors.

Below is my letter.  Use it if you'd like. (Except it's really long 'cause y'all know I can't keep things short.)  But I bet your story is just as compelling.  I bet you have your own reasons why accuracy is important to you.  Tell them.  The website will show you who to write to, and if you don't have time to write your own, there are plenty of sample letters on the site.

I back this campaign.

You in?


Dear, (Important Person),

My name is Meri Schuhmacher, and three of my sons have Type 1 Diabetes.  They were diagnosed at ages 8 months old, 5 years old, and 2 years old respectively.  Because my boys have diabetes, they must prick their fingers to test their blood sugars 8 times a day, each.  When the boys use a blood sugar monitor a number pops up on the screen.  The monitor can show blood sugar values between 20 and 600.  Although their goal range is 90-120, they often see numbers like 121, 214 and 398.  Very specific numbers that tell them how much insulin to give themselves to return their blood sugars down to range.  There is a lot of math in diabetes.  My boys use complicated ratios to figure out the amount of insulin they are going to give, dosing in increments as little as 0.025 units.  (Think of a tiny droplet of fluid on your fingertip, it is much smaller than that.)

Here is where the problem lies.  The blood sugar monitors that my boys use currently have regulations in place that state they can be up to 20% inaccurate.  It has recently come to my attention that there are meter companies out there that aren't even complying with that wide range, and the FDA has no programs in place to find these meter companies and sanction them to comply.

If you will humor me, let me explain why this is important  to me.  If my child pokes his finger and the meter shows his blood sugar is 400, (which is very high, but happens easily when his insulin pump site is kinked or torn out,) if the meter company is complying with FDA regulations, the number could actually be anywhere between 320 and 480.  Why does this make a difference to us?  If my son thinks he is 400, and gives himself insulin accordingly, to bring him down to his target of 100...but in reality has a blood sugar of 320...that would mean he would be giving himself too much insulin.  In fact it would be enough insulin to bring his blood sugar down to 20.

Some people can't be alive with a blood sugar of 20.  Death.  Seizures.  Passing out.  Lose of cognitive abilities. They are all a risk of low blood sugar numbers.  And to think that some meters have ranges that may be up to 40% inaccurate?  It is unthinkable.

We need a program that keeps my children, and the greater diabetes community safe.  A program must be set up by the FDA to keep these meter companies accountable.  More than that, we need accuracy that is +/- 10%.  It is the responsible thing to do.  Diabetes is rising at an alarming rate, that includes Type 2 as well as the autoimmune Type 1 that my children have.  Let's keep these populations as healthy as possible.  Giving too much insulin or too little insulin can lead to hospital stays or complications.  Having the right tools is paramount to the health and well being of those that suffer at the hands of this disease.  A healthier population helps our country on every front.

Dosing off numbers we can count on.  That is all I ask for.  What can you do to help keep my children safe?  Will you join me in this campaign to find ways to inspect the accuracy of all test strips and meters  sold in the United States, and then grant those that inspect to pull the substandard meters off the shelves?

I ask for my children, for my family, for my extended family, and for my friends.  This issue is bigger than it seems.  Accuracy could make all the difference.  Please help!

Thank you so much for your time!


  1. Thanks for helping to spread the word, Meri!

  2. And this is why I always check twice before correcting and average the 2 numbers. What a waste of strips though! Even today he wa 19 (we are in Canada) then 14 on the retest. I corrected for 16. But it can be so scary expecially at night!

  3. This is so important! This very fact is in my mind nightly when making corrections or adjusting doses for my daughter, makes me nuts. Thanks for taking the time to write a letter. I think there's a typo in the 4th paragraph down though, shouldn't lose be loss? Cheers!

  4. Thanks for your post. LYMI I quoted you on StripSafely here:


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