End of the jab?

UWA’s School of Medicine and Pharmacology at Fremantle Hospital is conducting a research project for people with diabetes who experience very low blood sugars.

The project is testing a new device for monitoring blood sugar levels that does away with the daily prick of the finger. This device has federal government approval and is widely used in other countries

The Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System bundles a tiny sensor and 5 mm needle into a discrete adhesive patch that is then applied to the upper arm.

Waving a Bluetooth reader over the sensor determines the glucose reading under the skin.

The results can then be downloaded to a computer and the patient can take action based on the levels including whether they are heading up or down.

The six month trial was initiated by study doctor Professor Timothy Davis with one of the aims to see if the device helps people to avoid very low blood sugar episodes and if so could become routine recommended care for people who are prone to this.

“We are hoping that this research will show benefit for people who have diabetes” says UWA Research nurse Penny Dwyer.

• Penny Dwyer helps Rod Brewer check out his blood glucose levels without having to prick his finger. Photo by Molly Schmidt

Substantial costs

Mrs Dwyer says very low blood sugar episodes are an acute complication with substantial costs on a personal and social level.

Severe reactions may account for as many as 25% of avoidable diabetes related hospitalisations and emergency department presentations she says.

The Freestyle Libre is expensive and therefore is cost prohibitive to many people.

Mrs Dwyer says some trial participants say the device has changed their lives: “With this device they don’t have to prick their fingers anymore. They absolutely love it.

FIFO worker Rod Brewer says the Freestyle Libre device has made life easier.

“I’m glad I got the device, especially working up in the mines, it’s made it a lot easier to manage and read my sugars.” he says

“The reader is in my bag, I grab it, scan it and put it in my bag again. Before I would have had to pull over, prick my finger…… by the time you stop and get going again your’re losing 10 minutes.

The researchers are looking for people with diabetes who experience a very low blood sugar episode and may be interested in participating in this trial. They can contact Research Nurse Penny Dwyer 94313230 or by email penny.dwyer@uwa.edu.au.

The research has been funded by Spinnaker Health Research Foundation with no contribution from the manufacturers, Abbott Care Australia.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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