Bite Me, Accu-Chek


Since my diagnosis more than fifteen years ago, I have used OneTouch meters exclusively. The reason why is simple: that’s what Kaiser supplies.

So, I was excited to discover that the lab uses a Roche Accu-Chek Aviva meter for measuring the blood glucose of mice. Sweet! I thought. My first-ever chance to compare!

My initial thoughts were simple– the strips are bigger, and it’s weird that the meter still uses coded strips, since OneTouch did away with that a while ago. My first and second uses went without incident; the Accu-Chek meter seemed boringly comparable to the OneTouch I have.

The third instance of use, however, proved unfortunate. Before I get to the details here, let me give you the setup– how exactly does measuring the blood glucose of a mouse work? My procedure goes something like:

  1. Gather tools– meter, strips, incision device, something to write with.
  2. Go outside and downstairs to the vivarium.
  3. Suit up– disposable gown, hair net, shoe covers.
  4. Enter mouse room and find mice.
  5. Remove mouse from cage by tail.
  6. Insert strip into meter.
  7. Snip mouse tail.
  8. Squeeze a drop of blood out of mouse tail. Try not to lose the drop as mouse sniffs and forages about.
  9. Hold strip to tail.
  10. Wait, wait, wait. Confirm blood amount was sufficient.
  11. Put mouse into separate cage.
  12. Record blood glucose value.

Here’s the problem: On instance three of measuring the blood glucose of my twelve mice, step 10 didn’t work. No blood glucose value appeared; instead, I got an “Err 1.” Darn. Try again with that mouse. Err 1. Hmm, I think. Skip to step 11, and put mouse in separate cage. Repeat steps 5 – 10 with another mouse. Err 1. Hogwash. Try again? Err 1.

So, much to my irritation, I return mice to appropriate cage, pack up meter, exit mouse room, disrobe, go back outside and back upstairs, and consult with my colleague. She doesn’t know what that error is, but the meter had worked for her a few days prior.

I consult the user manual– Error 1 means, “Your blood sugar may be extremely low, or the test strip may be damaged or not properly inserted.” Bull-oney. So I grab my own meter, and prick my finger. I measure myself using the Aviva. Err 1.

Bite me, Accu-Chek, I think. I grab a new box of test strips, and switch out the little coding dongle. Test myself again. 138. Well, at least it works.

So I take 0.1 units of insulin, pack up the meter, go outside and downstairs, suit up, enter the mouse room, and successfully measure the blood sugar of my mice, grumbling that what was supposed to take twenty minutes now has taken an hour. And fussing around with mice is not easy; I’d prefer not to have my tools complicate the matter!

Now, to be clear: this was a minor, minor inconvenience, all considered. And this is one anecdote that is entirely unfit, scientifically speaking. But, still– I have never, ever had a whole tube of OneTouch test strips just go bad. And for the three times I have used a Accu-Chek meter, to have one of those be a flop does not leave a good first impression.

Accu-Chek was happy to mail me a replacement tube of test strips, but the representative couldn’t really advise as to how to prevent this problem in the future. She said sometimes the strips were damaged in transit (although strips from the same bottle had worked for my colleague), or were compromised by moisture (seems unlikely, given that the strips were used in relatively controlled contexts).

So, I have to ask– who uses Accu-Chek meters? Do they work? Is this just a fluke? Or should I expect a high failure rate? Reason leads me to believe that the meter would not succeed and sell if it failed one in three times, but one in twenty is not unimaginable. How from the mean is my experience?

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3 years ago

I’m not yet diabetic, but was told by my doctor I might be pre-diabetic based on fasting glucose levels above 100 mg/dL as measured by a lab. I’m a health nut, so became very concerned. I bought 2 meters, a OneTouch and an AccuChek, just to see which I liked using more. I started using both on same blood samples and was shocked by how different the results were – often different by 20 mg/dL. So, since I am obsessive, I bought one more of each brand, then started comparing all four on same finger prick. I have to say,… Read more »

Terry Lubrick
Terry Lubrick
5 years ago

Coding and larger blood samples are a thing of the past.

Terry Lubrick
Terry Lubrick
5 years ago

Having used the One Touch Ultra Mini for several years, I must say that I have had minimal problems with my machine under various climatic conditions.
My machines have been coded for a long time(prior to 2013).
I have seen the competitor meters, but currently I prefer to stick with my Ultra Mini.

6 years ago

This is interesting. I recognize that how you handle and store the One touch test Strips may compromise them. In a recent conversation with m Kaiser PCP I learned that the one Touch meters have a 10 % +/- accuracy. As a Type II, my glucose is usually well below 120 or is that 132 or 108. Recognizing that any meter just provides us with a 90% accurate indication of our glucose at any given point in time. Folks we’re not doing brain surgery or launching a moon shot so expect some test strip waste and variations between lots of… Read more »

Ken Kraft
Ken Kraft
7 years ago

I  find it interesting of the comments that relate to the E-1 Error. I also on two different tubes of stripes had many E-1 errors.  Calling at 3 am the person from Accu-chek said that my strips had been compromised.   What a word to use.  I live in a house that is air conditioned with low humidy. This is the second tube of strips that have failed.  If these strips fail thatquickly I think that Roche needs to get their R&D Group out and start making some improvements. I get these strips from The VA. Not happy about what… Read more »

8 years ago

I have used Bayer Contour for eight years since diagnosed with Type 2. I changed insurance companies and the Bayer product were no longer ‘medically necessary’ because I had not used either of their preferred meter suppliers, LifeScan or Roche. I had my doctor order whatever complied with their suppliers. I got an Ultramini One Touch. The meter worked, but because I did not get testing solution I was not sure about the accuracy. The problem I had was the lancet device, Delica, it did not puncture deep enough to draw blood, and when it did occasionally, it was insufficient… Read more »

8 years ago

I’m a pedi RN who has had Type 1 for almost 30 years.  I used One Touch meters almost exclusively up until the last 3 years or so (changed due to insurance).  I actually like the Accu Checks – they took some getting used to, and don’t appear to be as “slick” as the One Touch meters, but after 30 years of testing, my fingers are quite calloused and sometimes getting enough blood out to fill the test strip reservoir is an issue.  I was having to discard several One Touch test strips due to insufficient blood fill.  With the… Read more »

Luke Henry
Luke Henry
8 years ago

I started out on OneTouch and was switched to AccuCheck after 7 years or so.  Once I got used to it I didn’t mind it at all though it did seem to require slightly more blood.  I’ve gone back to OneTouch because it talks to my insulin pump but I have had no issues with AccuCheck. On a side note, I actually happen to work in the manufacturing facility that produces Roche meters, including the Aviva.  It’s a top notch made in America product that many consider the cadillac of glucose meters.  I realize that doesn’t help you, but it’s… Read more »

Shane Aviva
9 years ago

That is a very interesting study and more interesting that the meter had issues. I picked mine up from <a href=”” target:”_blank”>Accu-Chek Aviva Meter</a> and they specialized in this meter, so they might have some answers for you. I do business with them and found them very informative on the subject.

Jack E
Jack E
9 years ago

I’ve been testing about once a week. Last week and previous weeks have gone by without incident. Today I had 6 or 7 strips fail in a row. E-1 error message. So I called their 800 number. After one of the most tedious and annoying robo-questioning sessions I finally talked to a nice fellow with a Punjab accent. He instructed me to hold down both arrow buttons at once for a few seconds until the meter displayed a diagnostic: H37. Whereupon he told me my strips had been “compromised”. And here I didn’t even know they they were under age!… Read more »

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