1. It is recommended that hands be washed to remove any food or chemical residue. Infections are rare with fingersticks. Washing also increases the circulation, which can help if obtaining an adequate sample is a problem. Alcohol is not recommended because it toughens the skin.
2. Remove a test strip from the vial and recap immediately. Exposure to air and light can damage strips in as little as an hour.
3. Turn meter on, and prepare the lancet device and a strip according to the manufacturer's directions. Lancet devices should be used to decrease tissue trauma and discomfort. Newer models have adjustable depth penetration. Lancets and lancet devices should never be shared; there are reported cases of communicable diseases spread via lancet devices.
4. Shake hand at side below waist and milk the finger to be pricked if needed. Place the tip of the lancet on the side of the finger opposite the nail bed with firm pressure, and release the button. Because the sides of the fingers have fewer nerve endings than the tips, they are less sensitive. Meters that allow for alternative lest sites, most commonly the forearm, have recently become available. However, some patients find it difficult to obtain an adequate sample at the alternative sites. It is advisable to have patients demonstrate their technique before prescribing any meter, especially when alternative sites are to be used.
5. Once the site has been lanced, gently squeezing the finger is generally adequate to obtain a drop. If not, running the finger under warm water and milking it prior to lancing the finger followed by lowering the hand almost to the floor while squeezing usually works.
6. Place the sample on the strip as directed. If the strip is not completely covered, the meter may report inaccurate results. Too small a blood drop is the most common cause of sampling error, although this happens less often with the newer meters, which require less blood, and also with the advent of capillary-action strips.
7. Record test results, including interpretation comments.
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