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A Diabetes Home Test Can Be a Waste of Time and Money: What Lies Beneath FDA Approved Medical Testing and Devices

Glucose powers the brain and is the organ’s main fuel source. According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar, known as glucose. Too much sugar in the blood can cause serious health problems.

There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Other types of diabetes include gestational diabetes and prediabetes. Gestational diabetes typically goes away after the mother gives birth. Prediabetes is reversible in many circumstances with the proper diet. The most prevalent type of diabetes in the United States is type 2.

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that is treated by carefully monitoring the level of sugar in the blood. The blood is tested through a standard venous draw in a laboratory or doctor’s office or at home using one of the popular home testing kits. The New York Times reports that the home tests are ineffective and in fact are a waste of money for individuals not on insulin.

People with type 1 diabetes, must check their blood sugar levels several times a day and then take insulin to replace any deficiency right away. Blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration is the standard of care for individuals who suffer from diabetes type 1. For those individuals monitoring their blood sugar level throughout the day with a home testing kit is more convenient and less costly than going to a laboratory three times a day to determine how much insulin to inject.

Type 2 diabetes patients, however, do not have a problem with their insulin levels and do not administer insulin as a regular course of treatment. Appropriate blood sugar levels are monitored by blood testing, but the correct blood sugar levels are maintained by an oral drug. When taken regularly and as prescribed the appropriate blood sugar levels are maintained. For these patients then, a home test is not necessary for the daily management of their blood sugar levels.

The New York Times made other findings, that are quite troubling. They include the following:

  •   Of the more than 23 percent of patients who were using testing strips, more than half were probably doing so in spite of widespread recommendations that they shouldn’t. They were using a median of two testing strips a day at a cost of more than $325 per year per patient.
  •   The New York Times has also reported that “a surprisingly large number of people” who use insulin are using less because they can’t afford it, putting themselves in danger.

On another front, a Kaiser Health News investigation found that the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations, the FDA, has built and expanded a vast and hidden repository of reports on device-related injuries and malfunctions. Since 2016, at least 1.1 million incidents have flowed into the internal “alternative summary reporting” repository, instead of being described individually in the widely scrutinized public database known as MAUDE, which medical experts trust to identify problems that could put patients in jeopardy.

The key takeaways from these reports is that individuals should check with their doctor that the home testing kit they are using for the management of their diabetes is correct. Understanding if you are required to test you blood several times a day verses in between venous draws will go a long way towards helping you manage your disease better. Seek advice from a medical care professional for the management of your diabetes type 1 or 2 condition.

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