Safety tips for blood glucose meters

Blood glucose meters are commonly used by people with diabetes for monitoring the glucose levels in their blood. They are normally prescribed by a healthcare professional such as a GP or a diabetic specialist.

Blood glucose meters do not diagnose diabetes. Only blood tests at a hospital laboratory can do this. The meters monitor the glucose levels in your blood and give information to guide your treatment. Your doctor will confirm your blood glucose level with a hospital laboratory test when making important changes to your treatment.

Blood glucose meters use test strips to measure glucose levels. The meters can also store your previous test results for review.

There are several types of meters with different features. Please make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular meter. These are outlined in the booklet that comes with the meter.

A member of your diabetes care team should train you correctly before you start using your meter.

It is important that you use your meter correctly to make sure that your blood glucose result is accurate. Here is a list of tips for using your blood glucose meter safely.

Top safety tips

  • Only use blood glucose meters that you have been trained to use. 
  • Don't use different meters from different manufacturer's at the same time. Different brands may give different results. 
  • Use only the test strips listed by the manufacturer for your device. Don't use test strips from a different manufacturer even if they fit your meter because they won't work.
  • Every time you start to use a new box of test strips, make sure to calibrate your meter and check that the strips are within the expiry date. You will find the expiry date printed on the container. 
  • Make sure that the lid of your test strips is sealed tightly, as moisture from the air may affect the accuracy of the result. 
  • The correct unit of measurement for blood glucose monitoring in Ireland is mmol/L. Make sure that your meter is set to this unit of measurement and check this regularly. 
  • Make sure to wash and dry your hands before testing. Do not squeeze your finger when taking a blood drop sample. 
  • Apply the correct amount of blood to the test strip. The instructions for use will tell you the correct amount. 
  • Blood glucose meters are sensitive to temperature and altitude differences. In these conditions, don't ignore any symptoms you have even if you obtain an abnormal reading.
  • Pay attention to any error codes that your blood glucose meter may show on the display window. If these persist, you should contact the manufacturer's customer care line for support and your diabetes care team. 
  • Follow the advice given by your diabetes care team on disposing sharps (for example needles) safely.
  • Make sure that you complete the warranty cards and return them to the manufacturer. This registers your device and means that you can be contacted if your device needs to be changed, for example if it needs to be recalled for safety reasons. 
  • Remember to test (quality control) your meter every year. Ask your diabetes care team how to do this if you are unsure.

How to report an incident to the HPRA

If a medical device poses a risk to your health and safety stop using it where possible and please report the problem to your healthcare provider, the HPRA and the manufacturer of the device. You should report any unexpected problem or malfunction that may affect your health or cause or contribute to an injury, for example a blood glucose meter giving an incorrect blood glucose reading, leading to incorrect treatment.

You can report incidents to the HPRA by filling in our online user report form. If you would prefer to fill out a printed copy of the form, you can download it from our website or request a copy by phone or e-mail.

Print/PDF versions

This webpage is also available as a leaflet in PDF or print format. You can request a copy by emailing