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BD Latitude

By Garrick Neal

Last Update: October 19, 2002

A new meter I recently purchased is called the BD Latitude.

The price I paid in Vancouver, Canada, was C$32. The list price is C$40. Typically, though, prices in the U.S. for meters are higher. It has been cleared by the FDA for release in the U.S. and should be available no later than May 2003 and soon after that in the UK. The software for the meter will be available February 2003. The cable will just plug into the strip port. No mention of the price of the software as yet. Typically though, software is free if we download it from a meter company's web site, but the cables need to be purchased. I think I paid about C$45 each, with shipping, for my Elite and Ultra cables. BTW, I liked the Glucometer Elite (Bayer) software much better than the Ultra's (LifeScan).

The Latitude is made by Becton Dickinson, the same company that makes the lancets. Actually it's not just a meter, but a single container with integrated meter that also holds a BLD, a vial of test strips, an insulin pen, two pen needles, and two spare lancets. It's a hard plastic "device" (good plastic I found out), about 7 by 2 1/2 by 1 1/4 inches (18 x 6 x 3 cms). There are also a couple of other novel ideas incorporated into it: The first is that when the pen is removed from the pen compartment (fully half the total volume of the device), the meter turns on and asks you to log your insulin type and dosage, for later referral to your doctor, if adjustments are necessary (obviously not for people on flexible insulin therapy). It uses 4 microlitres of blood, which is only 40% of what the Ultras use. Very tiny amount indeed. There are special BD Latitude lancets (same style as the regular ones) that are thinner to accommodate the small sample needed.

I found that the lowest of the five settings was enough for me.

The strips appear to be high quality (similar to the Ultras, but made of a gold coloured metal), and go in nicely. The reading takes 5 seconds. There are four different memory categories: 14 day average, 7 day average, time of day average (2 hour range), and insulin dosages. I haven't done many tests, but I assume the memories work well, and it does seem simple enough to use them. The vial that holds the test strips is the tiniest made, but needs to be removed to get the strips out (at least that's the way it was when I got it). The BLD snaps nicely into place for storage just over the meter face.

The 9 tests I have done comparing it to the Ultra, all read higher... anywhere from .3 to 1.4 mmol/L. (6 to 25 mg/dl). These results seem to be roughly in line with the test strip package insert. It is interesting to note that many of the other specs are similar to the LifeScan Ultra, including the 5 second test time. So, I'm going out on a limb and guess that much of the technology in the Latitude was licensed from LifeScan. Basically, I would say the Latitude is reading a touch high (whereas the Ultra reads a substantial 8% low... a great "feel good" meter), but the readings seem to vary more, so it is not as precise as the Ultra (precision is the repeatability of the tests). Probably a trade-off due to the very small blood sample that is required. The control test gave a reading of 6.4, with the normal range on the vial of strips being 5.1 to 7.3 (middle of range being 6.2). I should also mention that one reading I had with the Latitude, during one of my more serious hypos, was 3.5. I know I was much lower than that. The Ultra read 2.6, which, according to my shaking, was more accurate.

Another problem with the Latitude may be the temperature range. So far, I haven't tried it outdoors, but the minimum temperature is listed as 15 degrees C (59 F). That would prove very impractical for myself, especially as I live in Canada. One of the main reasons I switched from the Elite to the Ultra was the much better low temperature range.

Now, because of several of the features, I have been able to make use of the device several ways. Using my trusty dremel tool, I cut open the pen storage compartment, and removed the metal spring contacts that sense when the pen is removed. This has increased the usable capacity of the compartment so that now I can get all of the following items in: My (shortened) insulin pen, the BLD (more in a moment on that), a syringe, a cartridge (an old R insulin pen cartridge, now with Lantus in it), and two pen needles. (I now use the pen needle/lancet compartment for 4 Dextrosol tablets.) I can also store a few lancets if I want. However, I will usually just change those when I reload the whole kit.

What this means, is that I have everything I need for a day all in the one case, and I do mean everything. One further modification I have figured out how to do, as I alluded to above, is put the BLD in the pen compartment case. I have it all worked out (fingers crossed) so that the BLD will be permanently built in. I have also modified the strip vial compartment so that the vial does not need to be removed from the case to get the strips out. What, of course, this means is that I will finally have my true two handed (i.e. table free) pocketable (hmm) blood testing system!

But.... I can't stop here. What I often need to carry is just a meter and some glucose tablets. No insulin. If I remove the entire insulin pen compartment (not hard to do really), I can cut the remaining half in half and "fold" it back over on itself, and then do similar modifications like I've done on the one I have, I will be able to make a stand-alone meter (with a glucose tablet compartment) that measures 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 by 1/14 inches, which is about the same height and width as my pocket phone, albeit twice as thick.

Dremel tool
cut-off discs
epoxy glue
attitude (and a Latitude)
Garrick Neal
Type 1
Insulins: (in the last week)
Lantus, UL, NPH, R, and Hg

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