With Diabetes, Accuracy Matters

This morning, as I read the Philadelphia Inquirer, I noticed an article on page 1 of the Health section titled Steps to help teenagers cope with diabetes.

I have one of those, so naturally I was interested in reading every single word of that article, looking for a new takeaway that will help my teenager manage his blood sugar well.

(For the record, he does quite well already in that department, but there’s always room for improvement, and there’s always the fear that teenage rebellion will get in the way of a good A1C.)

The article featured a big photo of the very same continuous glucose monitor The Kid uses: a Dexcom, along with the caption “Dexcom’s continuous monitoring system checks sugars twice a day and can share readings automatically via the cloud with parents or providers.” The same information was present in the article.

Dexcom's continuous monitoring system checks sugars every five minutes and can share readings automatically via the cloud with parents or providers.
Dexcom’s continuous monitoring system checks sugars every five minutes and can share readings automatically via the cloud with parents or providers.

Almost. But not quite.

Dexcom’s continuous monitoring system checks sugars EVERY FIVE MINUTES. Day and night. No matter what the diabetic is doing. The “twice a day” applies to finger-sticks for blood sugar checks, which must be done twice daily to calibrate the Dexcom. So instead of doing those finger sticks before every meal or snack (and any other time the diabetic might “feel low”), it only has to be done twice a day.

This means that the Dexcom, with its 12 checks per hour, provides essential information about blood-sugar trending that diabetics can use in determining their next insulin dose. You can’t get that kind of trending information from finger sticks.

And that’s why The Kid has a Dexcom. If it was only good for twice a day, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble it takes to implant the transmitter every week. That inaccuracy might dissuade some families from looking into a very helpful piece of technology.

The Inquirer has done diabetic teens and their families a great service by publishing an article full of useful tips. I just wish it had presented accurate information about the technology that is helping The Kid as he learns to manage diabetes and becomes more independent.

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2 thoughts on “With Diabetes, Accuracy Matters

    1. I emailed the author and section editor and included the link to this blog. Both promised a correction but I never saw one.

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