Care of your equipment

Blood meters

There are several different makes of meters available. You will have been supplied with 2 on diagnosis. It is important to know that these meters are not supplied by the NHS, but from stocks given to the team from meter companies. If you do not get on with your meter or are interested in purchasing another, by all means research and look at what is on the market, but talk to one of the team before buying, as we may have some in our supply. Also, if your GP or Pharmacist says you have to change your meter to one prescribed by them, please refer them to your nurse, as local meter policies do not apply to children.

We strongly recommend that for Type 1 you have a meter available that, in addition to testing blood glucose is also able to test blood ketones.

You will have been shown how to take a blood test on your meter while in hospital. It is a good idea to practice a few times before you do go home. There will be an instruction booklet supplied with your meter which you do need to read in order to be fully aware of the correct operation and capabilities of the machine.

Please also complete the warranty for each meter which can be done online or by post. Not only does this ensure your meter will be replaced if it breaks, but like any other device, the company can contact you in case of any problem or recall of machine or strips. This happens on occasions and can have an impact on diabetes management and control. All meter companies have good customer service contacts and you should use these if your meter breaks, or you have a problem or need advice on using the meter and also to order freebies, such as covers, batteries, download leads, blood diaries, new finger pricking devices and also control solution.

Testing your meter

We advise that you perform a control test using the correct control solution for each meter in use at least once a month. In addition the meter should be tested if you are not confident of the results it is giving. Please look at the instructions for doing this test as it differs between types of meter.

Test strips

Please read the leaflet that is enclosed with each pack of test strips.

There is a possible risk of false high blood glucose readings if test strips are not used and stored correctly.

Advice common to all test strips including those for testing ketones is as follows

  • Store all strips in their original container
  • Close the cap after removal of strip
  • Check the expiry date of strips on opening
  • Write the discard date of the strips (how long they last after opening) on the container on opening

Insulin Pens

You will be given a pen for each type of insulin. These require a cartridge of insulin to be inserted prior to use. Occasionally pre-filled disposable pens may be given. It is important to ensure each pen is the correct pen for the make of insulin and it is easily identifiable. Pens may dial up in either 1 or 0.5 units increments. Usually each pen is a different colour, however if they are the same the pens should be clearly marked as to which insulin it contains. It is essential to check the insulin carefully prior to every injection.

You will need to check

  • Correct insulin
  • Expiry date
  • Insulin appears clear
  • Dose dialled up
  • Air shot

You will be shown how to give insulin correctly before you are discharged and you should also ensure you are shown how to change the insulin cartridge, if applicable.

If your pen is dropped at any time, it is advisable to change the insulin cartridge as even a hairline crack can allow seepage of a small amount of insulin and may affect the strength.

Please remove the needle from your insulin pen after each use as leaving it on can affect the strength of the insulin and also encourage formation of air bubbles. The needle also becomes blunt after 1 use. Reusing needles can make injections more painful and increase the risk of the needle breaking and abscess formation or lumpy injection sites.

All pens come with written instructions and a warranty which should be completed and sent to the company. If a pen breaks within the warranty period the company should be informed and a replacement will be sent. The company may also want to examine the pen in order to identify if other pens need to be recalled.

You should always have a spare pen for each insulin. These are available on prescription from your GP.

Insulin should be stored in a fridge towards the front of the shelf, never at the back as this is near the compressor and the insulin may become too cold which may damage it. Supply should be rotated so that stock is used in order of expiry. The cartridges of Insulin which are in use should be stored in the pen, at room temperature, out of direct heat or sunlight.

NB: Each cartridge of insulin or disposable insulin pen must be thrown away after 4 weeks of use. It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure the insulin is changed in the pen used at school.

If the pen is dropped onto a hard floor, please replace the cartridge for a new one as even a hairline crack may affect the strength of the insulin.


The Diabetes Team will fax a list of all items you need to be provided with on a repeat prescription.

Please ask us for a copy, if we have not given you one.

You need to check what the process for ordering further prescriptions is with your surgery. This can often be done online or directly through your pharmacy. You will usually be given enough supplies for a month. Please ensure you request supplies in good time as most surgeries require at least 48 hours notice to generate a prescription and your pharmacist may not have items in stock.