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How accurate are your diabetes test strips and glucose monitors?

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Diabetics must constantly check their blood sugar levels with a glucose meter and test strips. Some have concerns about the accuracy of these devices.

Last month, we asked people with diabetes to share what they pay for their test strips. It's part of our ongoing #PriceCheck collaboration.

We've heard that the cost of test strips can vary greatly. We've also heard that these test strips - and the blood glucose monitors they're used with - can provide inaccurate data. As we've dug into this topic, people with diabetes and clinicians have told us that the inaccuracy of these strips and glucometers is a huge – and life-threatening – issue.

Accuracy questioned

Strip Safely is an online campaign intended to raise awareness about the inaccurate blood glucose test strips and monitors on the market – and spark change. Here's how it describes this problem:

"Patients using meters that fail to meet accuracy standards face increased risks. Inaccurately high meter readings may cause patients to take too much insulin resulting in insulin shock. Conversely, meters that incorrectly show low results may keep patients from taking enough insulin. To [sic] little insulin may cause high blood glucose and possibly risky diabetic ketoacidosis."


Ebola doesn't spook most Californians, poll says

Courtesy of Marci Lopez

On Halloween, a new poll finds there's one thing that a majority of Golden State residents are not worried about: Ebola.

Californians might be scared of ghosts, goblins, and zombies. But on Halloween, a new poll finds there's one thing that a majority of Golden State residents are not worried about: Ebola.

The poll, out of the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Arts, Science and Letters and the Los Angeles Times, says:

  • 46 percent of California voters are "not at all worried" that they or a family member will be exposed to Ebola;
  • Another 24 percent said they are "not too worried" about Ebola;
  • Meanwhile, 18 percent of Californians said they are "somewhat worried" about it;
  • And, 12 percent are "very worried."

The results are based on interviews with 1,537 registered voters between Oct. 22 and Oct. 29. In comparison, a national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted between Oct. 15 and Oct. 20, found:


A side effect of Ebola coverage: Anxiety

stress pencil

Photo by Marsmettnn Tallahassee via Flickr Creative Commons

Forty-one percent of people in the United States are worried that they, or someone in their family, will be exposed to Ebola, according to the Pew Research Center.

Forty-one percent of people in the United States are worried that they, or someone in their family, will be exposed to Ebola, and 17 percent say they are very worried. That's according to a national survey conducted Oct. 15-20 by the Pew Research Center.

In fact, there's little to worry about, since you are extremely unlikely to contract Ebola, say public health officials. This story from NPR explains that other diseases - like measles - are much, much more contagious than Ebola. (You can find our handy reference guide to all things Ebola here.)

Still, the L.A. County Department of Public Health and its Department of Mental Health are teaming up to help adults and children reduce any anxiety they might feel about Ebola, says county Interim Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser. 


#PriceCheck: When diabetes test strips are too expensive

Diabetes test strips


Mark Winters says he should test his blood sugar four times a day, but because of the cost of the test strips, he generally only checks it twice.

Through our #PriceCheck project, we're crowdsourcing the cost of common medical procedures and devices. This time around, we're asking about the cost of diabetes test strips.

Mark's story

Mark Winters, 66, answered our call. A longtime tennis player and writer, Winters has had Type 1 diabetes for more than 60 years.

He told me it would be best if he checked his blood sugar four times a day. Instead, he says, he generally tests once in the morning and once at night. He's had diabetes for so long, he says, that he's very good at maintaining his blood sugar through nutrition and exercise.

Still, he concedes, "I should test more – but I don't, because I can't afford it."

'Immoral' costs

Diabetics can't necessarily just choose the cheapest strip on the market; there are a variety of glucose meters, and each one requires its own specific test strip.


Fact Check: Chlorine, Vitamin C are not Ebola treatments

Ebola Virus

CDC/Getty Images

The Ebola virus can't be prevented by drinking chlorine, and can't be treated with Vitamin C or essential oils.

Two Dallas nurses contracted Ebola while treating the country’s first victim of the disease, Thomas Eric Duncan. Beyond that, Ebola does not appear to be spreading in the United States.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about myths and misinformation.

Chlorine is not a cure

There’s currently no FDA-approved medicine or vaccine for Ebola.

Still, on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a strongly-worded advisory, warning people that drinking chlorine is not a cure for Ebola. If someone has been near a person with Ebola and has a fever or other symptoms, the CDC says, he should "go to an Ebola treatment unit now. It could save your life."

A second advisory alerts health care workers to such rumors, and describes the signs of chlorine poisoning.

Chlorine has played a big role in preventing the spread of the disease, explains NPR producer Nicole Beemsterboer. While reporting in Liberia for 10 days, she washed her hands - as well as her boots and shoes - in a chlorine solution constantly, she told NPR.