Pointed Questions: Changing Lancets

: 17 Comments

Testing Supplies Lancet Strips-1783 BW

How often do you change your lancet? Do you remember the last time you did? These were both questions of the day on Glu, and it’s been interesting to see all of the responses in the comments that followed. We compiled the results of one of the questions below. Are the results what you’d expect to see?

For me personally, changing my lancet is the last thing I remember as I go through my routine.

We unzip our meter case, stick the strip into the meter, wait for the icon to show up, hope we’re not wasting a precious strip, and then fling back the plunger and hit go. How many of us out there have the gauge set at 9? And every now and then, do you forget to set it back to 1 or 2 when you change it—and when you make that stab—ouch!

Why should we change our lancet? Remember back to the article about lipohypertrophy? Same stuff applies to our precious little appendages. The needle becomes dull, and can often give us false readings that can affect our whole day.

I mean, who am I to say, but I’m pretty sure it has been at least a month since I changed mine. I wish I would do it more often. Why do I forget? Are other tasks more grueling? Or do other thoughts about diabetes take over?

Lancet change QOTD graph

I met with Karen Cullen, CDE, nurse clinician, and research coordinator in pediatric endocrinology at UMass Memorial Health Care to ask her some questions about lancets.

What can happen if you don’t change it?

There is no evidence that you can get an infection from reusing your own lancet. Although there could be microscopic bits of blood left behind, these generally don’t cause any problems. The sharpness of the lancet will certainly diminish, which can cause it to hurt more. Think about cutting a steak with a spoon. So really, the worst thing that might happen is that you’ll have to increase the depth so that the dull tip can get through. Ouch.

Which part of our fingers should we be using?

All ten fingers are fair game. If you don’t like the hard calluses that develop, then rotate! The poke should actually be done on the sides of the fingers above the knuckle, not the tip and not the pad.

Realistically how often should we be changing it? In the real life world of people living with type 1 diabetes, and all the tasks involved with caring for diabetes (checking the blood sugar, calculating carbs, calculating doses, giving the insulin, logging or uploading your meter, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, etc.) changing a lancet is pretty low on the priority list. It is recommended that the lancet be changed each and every time it is used. The fact of the matter is, it will still get you a drop of blood if it’s been used over and over. It just might hurt a bit more.

When working with patients, what strategies or recommendations do you have when talking about this topic?

I tell people to try for once per day, although I know many that change it once per week, and others still that change it when the clocks change twice per year. If a person is actually checking blood sugars at least 4 times per day, administering insulin when recommended, and doing all the other tasks required to stay healthy and keep blood sugars in control as much as possible, then change it when you think of it. I wouldn’t worry about the lancet. It’s all the other things that really need the attention.

Thank you, Karen, for taking the time to talk with us!

Anna Floreen–GluAnna

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