SMBG Out of Control: The Need for Educating Patients About Control Solution

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The purpose of this project was to determine how prevalent control solution calibration is in patients who perform self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG).


Eighteen patients with or parents of children with type 1 diabetes mellitus were surveyed to gauge patients' knowledge of control testing and the prevalence of its use. US census data of educational attainment of residents in the surveyed region were used. The availability of control solution (CS) in all pharmacies in 8 cities in mid San Mateo County, California, was evaluated as well. User manuals from 6 leading blood glucose monitor (BGM) manufacturers were retrieved for their indications for using CS.


It was found that although 82% of respondents claimed to know what CS is, 58% claimed to never use this product. In the analyzed geographic region, the educational attainment was above the educational level for the entire San Francisco Bay Area and the United States. CS in our region was stocked by only 15% of pharmacies that sold BGM equipment, even though 6 major BGM manufacturers in the aggregate listed 10 indications for its use.


It was concluded that BGM users are frequently not using CS to calibrate their monitors. The low availability of CS at pharmacies might contribute to the low demand for this product. It can be concluded that patients who perform SMBG need education from diabetes educators about proper CS calibration. Without the use of CS, BGMs are not being used according to manufacturer's specifications. This misuse could lead to erroneous results and erode the potential benefits of SMBG.

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