Another Way to Think of Accuracy

In every post I’ve read so far about meter accuracy and the current standard allowable amount of +/-20%, I’ve seen examples of a 100mg/dl given and the variance there being 80-120. But what if we look at it from another angle?

What if that 100 was on the lower end of that given allowance? After all, it would still be “within” the range. What if our actual exact blood sugar was 120, with the minimum allowable amount being 96 and the upper allowable amount being 144?

Sort of makes you think deeper, huh? No? What about another example…

Your meter is saying your glucose is now 280. It would be the general consensus that the reading would be the smack-dab middle of the range, right?

Not so.

What if that reading is actually on the higher end of the spectrum. What if the bg’s middle number was actually 235, with a 20% range of 188-282. That 280 would be considered “allowable” given these standards.

I could dose off of that 280, and even possibly have a true BG of 190, and end up passing my target of 120 and end up in the 40’s or 30’s later.


While this example is very extreme, it’s possible. Which is why we need stricter accuracy standards… even more so than what is being set forth now. I want a meter that will be accurate within a maximum of 5%. While we have much better technology than what we had a long time ago, it’s still not enough. With the microdosing we have to do now with pumps as well as the pressure put on us by the medical profession to have tight control, we need to have much better accuracy standards for the tools we use. After all, what’s the use in using these tools for tight control if they can’t provide us the tight accuracy we need?

A cake is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. If we are to be better diabetics, we need better ingredients…I mean… tools.

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Filed under dblog, Diabetes

4 responses to “Another Way to Think of Accuracy

  1. I don’t think this is an extreme example. I think it happens all of the time. And when I was involved in this discussion at Roche in 2009, it was the exact example I used. We were talking about what was more important – accuracy on the low or high spectrum. I said, no matter how low, I’m going to eat. I’m going to eat enough to get me back up. But if my meter says 300, when I am actually 250, I wind up taking way more insulin than I need to correct and thus, crashing. And how many times do we bolus the correct amount when our blood sugar is high and wind up crashing? Not every time, maybe not even a lot, but I’d say once a week for me. Not extreme, no, reality.

  2. Judi

    On top of this, I read another blog today by Wil and it was talking about, among other things, that pumps are not totally accurate either. So, not only are you getting only a range of what your BG is but also a range of how well your pump is dosing. Now, he was talking about the new Snap pump, but I bet if you read the full manual of each pump, they are not 100% accurate either. If anyone cares to look at this blog, it’s at

  3. Not extreme example at all. Happens to me, probably more often than not – as I’m “non-compliant” a lot these days, and working to do better. But yes, the dosing matters so much and we need the accuracy to ensure we’re not dipping low, especially in the middle of the night when we might not be able to do anything about it. Thanks for this post, Sarah.

  4. Matt K.

    I am often disturbed by the wide variances allowed for BG meters here in Canada too (many Canadians feel our government takes it’s lead from that of the USA) I’d love to put my two cents in towards that conversation on our side of the border, but the website you linked to seems to be strictly for those in the USA… I have only used one type of meter for my entire time as a diabetic… Whenever I try others, the readings seem highly inaccurate to me… (Yes, I do back to back testing… With RIGOROUS consistency.) I had one new meter (which shall remain nameless) that I had both extremes of those +/-20% variances between two tests within minutes of each other, even though I was using the same meter & the same bottle of strips! When I do the same with my “main” meter, it’s usually far closer…

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