Friday, March 03, 2006

Choice A1c Home Test



Yesterday morning I purchased a Choice brand A1c home test. I had to cancel my February Endo appt partly due to financial reasons and I've been curious to know what my latest A1c results would show. I've been shopping around for a several days but ended up at Wal-Mart as they are the only ones who had it in stock. FYI, I paid $18.98. I tried to get it cheaper, but this is the going rate.

I couldn't wait to get home and try it. My bG's have been good for the last month and I was hoping I would be rewarded by a nice low A1c number. By "good bG's" I mean my meter is telling me I have a 14 day average of 134 and a 30 day average of 139. Not bad and I give most of the credit to launch preparation for the 100 days of fitness - the jb100.

If you've never run one of these tests it's a little more complicated than I originally thought, but nothing that can't be handled. After carefully following the directions and meticulously getting the right size blood sample, mixing it with the dilution kit, you then apply the diluted blood sample to the monitor opening. You then wait for what seems like an eternity (8 minutes) to get what you hope is a great number... 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1......... (flash) QCOK (flash) 8.9 (flash) QCOK (flash) 8.9 over and over and over. I was in disbelief, it had to be wrong.

This result got me re-reading the instructions, even more closely this time. The temperature range for the test is between 64° and 82° F. It's been in the low 40's here today and our house is between 65° and 68°. Close, but in range. The other thing I noticed is the test expires on the 28th of this month, 25 days hence. I could find nothing else that might possibly make the result erroneous.

I called the 800 number listed in the documentation. After a about a five minute wait I was connected to a customer service rep no doubt located in India who, I must admit spoke pretty good english. Twice, she made it a point to tell me she was a health care professional. I explained the situation to her emphasising the the temperature range and expiration date concerns. She agreed that they were close but within range. I also told her about the 14 and 30 day meter averages. She asked about my last A1c and said she needed to talk with her supervisor. When she returned she again said that everything appeared normal but if I was unhappy the company would send me a refund. Somewhere during the course of the conversation she also said that as of December 31st, 2005 they company is no longer manufacturing these kits.

I was very pleased that the company offered me my money back, less sales tax of course and I took them up on their offer. At this point I am unsure I'm going to try this again. I need to do research on why they are no longer manufacturing these kits and if there are other kits available. I've read and re-read Mendosa's page on A1c home test kits and have still not come to a definitive conclusion. I've gone to my endo before and been surprised by my A1c results, both pleasantly and otherwise. Most of the time I know roughly what to expect and I feel strongly this result was out of line.

12 Comments:

Blogger Sandra Miller said...

Keith,

I have no doubt that you are absolutely right.

We bought the same A1c test just a a month and a half ago. Joseph's endo wanted us to do a home test six weeks after his last appt because she felt that his last A1c (7.3) reflected MANY highs he experienced while we were trying to adjust his basal rates..

Joseph's A1c according to the Choice test -- 8.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Then I saw that the test's expiration date was the very next day. Also, I called Joseph's endo and spoke with her about the result. She said that, given his bgs in the six weeks preceding his last visit, and the fact that his control was BETTER in the six weeks prior to the at-home test, we should consider the result erroneous.

She was also aware that this test was no longer being manufactured, and did not recommend we try to repeat the test with a "newer" Choice brand product....

6:30 PM  
Blogger Sandra Miller said...

Oh, and have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

6:31 PM  
Blogger Johnboy said...

Keith, try try again. Nice to get the $$ to redo it. Sorry to hear about the suboptimal insurance/financial info.

4:23 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

sandra--
Sorry to hear you guys also had poor results with this test. The potential to help with long term control out of something like this is very good. Unfortunately, it appears it's just not quite ready for prime time.

Hope your weather is moderating some up there in the North country and you can get out and have some weekend fun with the family!

johnboy--
Yes, it was refreshing that they offered to refund my money without a quibble. I'm not convinced that these tests are of much use yet, but many times technology has to go thru several iterations before it's finally perfected.

I'm not crazy about our current financial/insurance situation but I think it's short term. There are a couple of scenarios on the horizon that I could get excited about. We'll have to see what develops.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Johnboy said...

Well, good luck, Keith! :)

3:22 PM  
Blogger caren said...

I did one of those tests a few months back for similiar reasons. My A1c's had been hovering around 7.0 for a while (4 tests, 3 months apart.) I tried it and it gave me a 8.2. After crying for about 24 hours, I went on with life. I had an A1c drawn a few weeks later (not long enough for any significant changes) and it was 6.7.

I don't trust them. I am sure that, like everything else in the Diabetes world, it will get better with time. But for now, I am sticking to the lab.

11:01 AM  
Blogger type1emt said...

Keith,
I tried the A1c at Home test, some time ago. Its not instant, you've got to mail it in. It was pretty accurate(within .3 of the last a1c I had, 3 weeks previous) Which might have just been luck o' the the draw('twas an Ebay special), but it was something I'd have trusted(if I had to resort to just them..)
Might want to try them.
-Heidi

12:55 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

caren--
I hear you. I think these tests are diamonds in the rough. One day we'll probably use them routinely but for now it's Hi-Ho Hi-Ho, off to the lab we go.

Heidi--
Glad you had a relatively good experience with your mail-in A1c test. I think your type is much better than the Choice test. Speed of results was the main reason I went with the Choice and I ended up wasting my time entirely!

7:26 PM  
Anonymous JasonJayhawk said...

I've tried the A1cAtHome test too, via eBay, on the same day as a lab A1c test. I had comparable results and was satisified with them. (The lab and AtHome results used different reference ranges, so it wasn't like comparing apples-to-apples). However, they were acceptable.
Beware, though -- The fellow I bought the test from on eBay also sold me a Kidney test with a recent expiration. I performed the test one week before it was to expire and mailed it in to their Florida lab. Three weeks later, they sent me a letter stating that the test had expired, and gave me the option of buying another test. I had mailed it in one week before the expiration, but they took their time in getting to it. It's silly, because all it was is filter paper that soaks up urine. Filter paper doesn't go bad. I decided to save my $10.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Lin said...

Hi I bought the same kit that is the box and my last AIC from May 06 was 5.6 which is real good. And recently i have been drinking water alot and dry mouth so I thought (well I am anxious) maybe I should try so I bought one in April of this year and I never used it so I thought I will used it and it gave me 7.5 ...wow!! How did i get from 5.6 to 7.5 in 3 months...then I looked at expiration it was Jan 2006. It epired more than 6 months ago. Do anyone got similar experiences?

Lin

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Uncled said...

Hi, Have you ever had the A1C done at a lab and then gone back for another or to a different lab and had it run again?

At the local Hillcrest lab I went in on May 1 and had an A1C, it was 6.9. The next day I went to the Southcrest lab in Tulsa, (same group) and got an A1C done. It was 8.2.
I don't think any of them are very accurate, but they are a good indicator if you've been excessively high. The 6.9 is closer to what my meter reading averages indicate. But even on them, I have registered 128 on mine, and 135 on my sister, at the very same time. And who's to say which one is most accurate.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Kevin L. McMahon said...

It does take time to get these things right. There is a new home sampling kit available called HomeCheck™. It is sent into the lab and goes through a two-step analysis making this the most accurate A1c available - even more accurate than the finger-stick A1c tests done in your endos office. HomeCheck is always within 0.1 and you can compare that to DCA2000 which is off by 0.3 about 16% of the time and off by 0.5 or more 3% of the time.

We also use a level 1 laboratory of which there are only 9 in the country which means that our A1c result is also the most accurate test available anywhere. It's also easy.

8:33 AM  

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