Glucometer Safety: part two

January 19, 2015

Evelyn McKnight and Lauren Lollini

In part two, our colleague, the “nurse from St. Louis,” shares “factors” that contribute to the problem of improper or lacking disinfection of glucometers–and “recommended actions” and a “conclusion.” HONOReform calls on our many partners and colleagues to make glucometer safety a priority in your institutions; and we remind patients to always ask questions…such as, Was this glucometer just disinfected?

Its important to follow CDC guidelines regarding glucometer use

Its important to follow CDC guidelines regarding glucometer use

Factors Contributing to the Problem of Improper Cleaning of Meters

After researching this issue, it is apparent that glucometers and other blood testing meters were approved by the FDA for individual home use. Cleaning these meters with alcohol would have been appropriate when used for one individual only at home. However, when these meters are used on multiple people, then disinfecting with agents that kill blood borne pathogens, after each use, is the only safe and appropriate option. See this article for more information. It appears that the manufacturers and sales representatives marketed these devices that were approved by the FDA as being safe and effective for individual home use as being appropriate to use at health fairs and mass health screenings as well.

Recommended Actions

Because some of the manufacturers and sales representatives contributed to this problem, we are asking them to help rectify these unsafe practices, i.e., of improper use and cleaning/disinfecting of point-of-care blood testing meters, as soon as possible. We believe that these companies should immediately update their websites and printed material and contact all current, past and potential customers via email, regular mail, phone calls and in-person visits. Very specifically they need to inform everyone that any type of point-of-care blood testing equipment needs to be cleaned and disinfected after each use if used for multiple people. Of course, the health care worker must follow all other standard infection control procedures. Furthermore, should the sales representatives find any used penlets (a lancet device that can be used on multiple patients but should not be) in a healthcare setting they should confiscate those devices.


Obviously, we all must remain vigilant regarding proper infection control measures, especially those related to blood borne pathogens. It is imperative that we communicate concerns in order to educate and motivate everyone to put patient safety first. The lives and health of our patients depend on us to practice safely.


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