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When It Comes to Your CGM, Have a Backup Plan

In April 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled the devices used with many FreeStyle Libre glucose monitors due to the potential for overheating, spark, or catching fire when charging.1

This reminded me, yet again, how dependent so many of us are on continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and other diabetes medical devices to help manage our diabetes.

While these medical devices make it easier to manage our glucose levels more accurately, they can also leave us in the lurch when they fail or become unavailable — making it all the more important to have a backup plan.

How can diabetes medical devices become unavailable?

FDA recalls aren't the only reason your diabetes medical devices can unexpectedly become unavailable or unusable.1

The device can simply stop working, break, or be discontinued by the manufacturer. Forgetting the device somewhere or running out of supplies will make it unusable, at least for a while.

Outside forces can also come into play. Power outages can interrupt service, especially when there's no other way to charge a device. Internet outages disrupt sharing of your data to the cloud or an app, leading to gaps in data. And as we experience extreme weather events, losing power or internet access is becoming more common.

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In all of these situations, getting a replacement device or having service restored to your device will take time. With that in mind, it only makes sense to think about how to continue with diabetes management before we cannot use our diabetes medical devices.

Create your diabetes management backup plan

The most direct backup strategies for losing the use of your CGM or other diabetes medical device are also the most obvious ones:

  • Own a spare device and have extra supplies at hand.
  • Use a glucose meter or syringes.

Have extra supplies

Retaining spare devices and supplies is probably the most obvious strategy as a backup plan. The spare device doesn't even need to be the same make or model. It can be an older version of the device.

Just ensure you also have the supplies you need and that they are not expired. If your everyday device has a connected app, you may need to manually enter your readings to keep your data current.

Use traditional methods

If you have to replace your CGM, this probably means going back to using a glucometer. For someone using insulin, it can mean going from using a pump or smart pen to multiple daily injections (MDI) with syringes.

In this case, ensuring you have the supplies you need and that they haven't expired is essential. Additionally, you want to make sure you're still comfortable doing things "the old way."

You might have to set a timer to remind you to check your glucose levels throughout the day. Or you might need to practice drawing insulin into a syringe and manually administering a shot now and then.

Prepare your plan in advance

For these strategies to work, you'll need to prepare in advance. Once a year, or maybe more often, check that you have the backup device and supplies you would need if you suddenly couldn't use your diabetes medical device. Also, be sure to practice using your backup system to be confident when using them.

Stay current on the news about diabetes medical devices

To be prepared, it's necessary to keep informed about diabetes medical device news and recalls. 2 great sources for this information are:

  • Your doctor or trusted medical provider
  • The U.S. FDA

Rely on your healthcare team

Talk with your medical provider about any concerns about using a diabetes medical device and the options available if your CGM or another device suddenly can't be used.

Your medical provider can address your particular situation and help you put a plan in place before an emergency happens.

Sign up for safety alerts

The FDA's safety alerts will help you stay informed about diabetes news and recalls of medications and medical devices. Visit the Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts page. Search for "diabetes" to see the latest notices.

They also have a newsletter you can subscribe to. While there's a mailing list for diabetes medications, there isn't a newsletter specifically for diabetes medical devices.

Empower yourself always to have a plan

Having a backup plan in place before your CGM or other diabetes medical device can no longer be used is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and your health.

Knowing what you will do and being confident that you have what you need in place before facing a device recall or failure will buy you some peace of mind and help keep your diabetes management on track.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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