Lancing devices for monitoring blood-glucose

How to ensure you use lancing devices correctly to prevent cross-infection such as hepatitis B.

Article date: June 2009

We continue to receive reports where transmission of hepatitis B has been linked to the use of the wrong type of lancing device to obtain capillary blood samples for analysis of blood glucose in those with diabetes. We have issued 4 medical device alerts and a poster on this topic in the past 5 years.

In the reports, lancing devices intended for self-testing by an individual have been used by health-carers or care workers to take samples from more than one patient. Although the lancet is disposed of after every use, the end cap—which can become contaminated with blood—is not, and is therefore a potential source of cross-infection between patients. These lancing devices for self-testing by individuals are commonly supplied by manufacturers with glucose meters in blood-glucose monitoring kits.

All those involved in the prescription, supply, and use of blood-glucose monitoring kits should be aware that the lancing devices supplied with the kits are usually only safe for use by one person for self-testing. In settings where there is more than one patient, disposable single-use lancing devices where the entire unit is disposed of after use (a range is available on prescription), or non-disposable lancing devices which are designed and intended for use on more than one patient where the whole end of the lancing device is disposed of after use (available separately from meter manufacturers) should be used.

If in doubt about whether you are prescribing, supplying or using the correct type of lancing device, see the buyers’ guide on lancing systems CEP 07025 on the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency’s website. 

Previous medical device alerts for lancing devices

MDA/2008/046 - Lancing devices (used in pharmacy settings) – all brands

MDA/2006/066 - Lancing devices used in nursing homes and care homes

MDA/2004/044 - Lancing devices for obtaining blood samples

More information

Poster - are you using the right type of finger pricker?


Article citation: Drug Safety Update June 2009, vol 2 issue 11: 13.

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