Persons with diabetes who are hospitalized often have fluctuations in blood glucose levels due to illness, stress, changes in diet and activity, and changes in medications and treatments. These changes require frequent testing so that the blood glucose can be as tightly controlled as possible. The American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2007 recommend Point of Care Testing (POCT), or bedside glucose monitoring, for persons with diabetes who are hospitalized.
Bedside glucose monitoring requires a finger-prick capillary blood sample, which is placed on a reagent strip and then into an electronic meter. Within a few seconds the current blood glucose level is available. Most people with diabetes monitor blood glucose at home using similar equipment, but to ensure safety for hospital equipment, additional quality assurance checks are needed.
A complete quality assurance program, usually directed by a laboratory professional, assures that the equipment and processes meet strict laboratory standards, even though they are being used outside of the lab (Diabetes Care, February 2004: 27(2); 553-591; American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, Point of Care Position Paper; College of American Pathologists, (CAP) Laboratory Accreditation Program).