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SMBG Out of Control: The Need for Educating Patients about Control Solutions

Do patients know what the control solution is used for? And do they ever use it?…

Self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) patients are less educated than expected in regards to control solution calibration for their blood glucose meters.

In order to ensure a blood glucose meter is accurately measuring a person’s blood glucose level, a control test of the device must be done using control solution. These control tests should be performed during the following situations: 1) a new meter is used, 2) a new box of diabetes test strips is started, 3) new batteries are placed in the meter, and 4) if a meter has been dropped or has been damaged.

Recently, a study led by Tahir Chaudhry and Dr. David Klonoff determined the prevalence of control solution calibration in patients who self-monitor their blood glucose. The study included a total of 18 patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus, and data was collected via survey to assess "patients’ knowledge of control testing" and how often they did it.

Results showed that while 82% of participants knew what control solution was indicated for, 58% reported never using the solution while self-monitoring their blood glucose. In the San Francisco Bay Area and the United States, the study also mentioned that despite major blood glucose meter manufacturers providing the many indications for control solution, only 15% of pharmacies actually carry this product.

Based on these findings, the authors of the study concluded that healthcare providers must provide the appropriate control solution calibration education for their SMBG patients. This will in turn help patients achieve the maximum benefit from their diabetes management plan.

Chaudhry T, and Klonoff D.C. "SMBG Out of Control: The Need for Educating Patients About Control Solution." Diabetes Educator. (2013): 1-7. Print. <http://tde.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/07/18/0145721713495791.abstract>.