Proper Technique Makes a BIG Difference on Glucose Levels

Posted on September 21, 2011 11:45 am CDT

Are you diabetic? If so, do you wash your hands thoroughly before testing your blood glucose level EVERY TIME? A recent article in the Pharmacist’s Letter reminds us of the importance of this small task. Checking your blood glucose level without first washing your hands can make a difference in your blood glucose reading.


Hand washing with soap and water before monitoring your blood glucose level can not only help prevent infection but it also improves the accuracy of the results. For instance, if a diabetic patient handled fruit then tested their blood glucose without washing their hands, the results of the blood glucose monitoring could be greatly skewed. Washing your hands first is ALWAYS the best practice.


If you cannot wash your hands before testing, you could use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. But keep in mind that alcohol evaporation can constrict blood vessels which could make it harder to get a blood sample. This is why swabbing the test site area with an alcohol swab before testing is no longer recommended.


Another option besides hand sanitizer, when you cannot wash your hands first, is to wipe away the first drop of blood with a tissue and use the second drop. In order to ensure a second drop of blood, you should warm your finger and let your arm hang down at your side before testing. You may also “milk” the finger but check with the manufacturer of your blood glucose meter first to make sure that is okay. Some studies show that too much pressure can alter results by 5-13%. Keep in mind that if you have handled fruit and not washed your hands, the second drop of blood could still provide inaccurate results.


The last option you could consider if hand washing before testing isn’t available is alternate site testing. This isn’t an option for all meters but the newer meters do allow for alternate site testing. If you do decide to use alternate site testing, try not to test after a meal, exercise or when you feel that your blood sugar is low because alternate site testing can be inaccurate when blood sugar levels aren’t stable.


Here is a list of proper techniques when testing blood glucose levels:  wash hands with soap and water thoroughly before and after testing; DO NOT use the test strip or lancet more than once; if an error occurs while testing, call the (800) phone number listed on the back of your meter to have a technician diagnose the issue or refer to the owner’s manual (note: most meters come with warranties); be aware of product expiration dates that are located on the box of most strips and lancets; blood products may not be returned to the pharmacy for health reasons; store all diabetic blood glucose supplies, including the meter, in a cool, dry place without exposing to cold, heat or direct sunlight; do not use alcohol to clean your meter, use a soft cloth dampened with water; record all blood glucose readings in a log book (available at our pharmacy if needed); reorder all testing supplies 3-5 days before running out of product to ensure the product will be ready when you need it.


Lastly, please don’t hesitate to call us if any questions regarding checking your blood glucose level should ever arise. You can reach us at (417)881-8841. And remember, WASH THOSE HANDS!


Source: Pharmacist’s Letter

"Being a senior and not understanding all of this medical stuff, it’s very comforting for me to know that everyone at Medicine Store Pharmacy will take the time to explain things to me, answer my questions and take care of me. I know that everything will be done right and fair." Buck A.
Customer since 1985