Field tip #1: Several old-style coded meters are now being marketed as self-coding by virtue of having all strips made by companies having the same code. While it’s true that you don’t ever need to change the code, it’s still possible to accidentally change the code by bumping the arrow keys on the meter after inserting the strip, so you still need to be vigilant with these meters.
Field tip #2: With coded meter systems, the batch code for the strips is printed on the label of the test strip vial, an important reason not to throw out (or recycle) the plastic containers the strips come in. (The other reason is that the vial is lined with a desiccant material that helps preserve the strips.) The meter will briefly flash the code it’s using when you put a strip in the strip port. Make sure that the numbers on the meter and the vial match.
Field tip #3: People who use fast-acting insulin and have meters that use disposable batteries should carry a spare set of batteries for their meter at all times, and have a backup meter at home or at work (or in both places). If you use fast-acting insulin and have one of the newer, rechargeable meters, it is critical that you incorporate meter recharging into your routine so you don’t run the risk of being caught with a dead meter and symptoms of low blood glucose at the same time. Recharging weekly or every two weeks does the trick for most people.
Field tip #4: Many test strip vials have control solution target ranges printed on them. These ranges are frequently mistaken by users as blood glucose targets. The ranges printed on these vials do not represent where your blood glucose should be, but rather what the meter should read when using a control solution.
Field tip #5: The first generation or two of test strips needed to be handled with kid gloves; you had to be careful not to touch the “business end” of the strip when removing it from the vial and placing it in the meter. Most manufacturers now state that contact with the sample end of the strip will not affect the accuracy of the test.
Field tip #6: If you are in a bind and have nothing but expired test strips on hand, and you have one of those “smart” meters that knows the strips are expired and refuses to work, just reset the meter’s date to the previous year. Keep the month and day the same, so that you can still sort out the dates and times of tests when you’re analyzing the meter’s data in the future.