Freestyle Libre – A Nurse’s Review


With thanks to Abbott Global for providing a complimentary FreeStyle Libre, my sensor provided accuracy, and the full 10 days of sensor life that it promises to provide to those of us living with diabetes. The results have truly been remarkable.

The FreeStyle Libre is now available for purchase in the United States. This system is unique in that it’s the only continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system that doesn’t need blood sugar numbers to get the system up and running, nor does it need the usual calibrations with blood glucose tests multiple times throughout the day, demanded by other systems (Medtronic and Dexcom).

There is an unfortunate 12-hour warm-up period after insertion of the “Flash System” sensor in order to use this model. The “Next-Gen” model of the FreeStyle Libre system has a 1-hour warm-up period, 14-day sensor life and doesn’t require a presciption. This model is the version that will be used in the Bigfoot Biomedical system that we will – fingers crossed – see by 2019.

Making it Happen

The inserter is quite simple. My only complaint is that it’s a bit clunky and demanded a hard squeeze to release onto the back of the upper arm. This caused a bit of apprehension with the insertion process.

Scanning the sensor for glucose values takes 1 second with the handheld reader and wa-la! On the screen is your current real-time sensor glucose value. It doesn’t provide a constant feed between scans but it does hold data from the past 8 hours.

I’ve heard medical professionals referring to this system as “One for people with Type 2 diabetes.” I’m here to tell you it isn’t. This system has been functioning as well, and sometimes better than, my Medtronic Guardian 3 sensors for use with my Medtronic 670G closed-loop insulin pump.

While I’ve had 2 sensors fail for my 670G in the past 8 days, I remain on the same FreeStyle Libre sensor. No fuss, no muss.

My Positives:

  • Continuous glucose monitoring typically requires calibration with a blood glucose result multiple times throughout the day. This system requires NO BLOOD SUGARS or CALIBRATIONS.
  • The accuracy has been shocking.
FreeStyle Libre wins again!

FreeStyle Libre wins again!

  • I’m fond of wearing glucose sensors/ transmitters on my arm – they seem to provide the best results in my experience with Dexcom, Medtronic and now Abbott’s products.
  • The handheld device/ receiver/ scanner also functions as a glucometer.
  • I have no itchiness or skin irritation from the tape, nor have I had to add extra tape to keep the system intact. It’s held up to vigorous exercise, bumps on walls, baths, perspiration and taking clothing off and on my arms for 10 days.
  • I haven’t had any issues with the sensor failing, or acting persnickety on a regular basis at all.
  • The sensor doesn’t hurt to remove like my 670G does – large pieces of tape can be harmful to our skin, as are adhesive removers.
One point off from each other - so impressive. [Medtronic 670G is on the left, FreeStyle Libre is on the right.]

One point off from each other – so impressive. [Medtronic 670G is on the left, FreeStyle Libre is on the right.]

My Negatives:

  • Why every diabetes company is stuck on making their supplies STARK WHITE is beyond me. We don’t wear white band-aids, most ACE bandages are beige, tapes can be found in neutral colors, but if you ask any diabetes company if they have skin color options, their answer will be a firm: “No.”
    I’m very Irish, with fair skin and the color of this sensor bothers me – it screams: “Look at my arm – ask me what this is!” How about a neutral color or even better yet, three skin color range options. Abbott would be a forerunner in this realm. Please, someone consider this.
Please, Abbott, consider color options - no one has WHITE SKIN.

Please, Abbott, consider color options – no one has WHITE SKIN.

  • The receiver is a bit bulky in this day and age. It would be great to have the ability to use a smartphone as the receiver/ scanner. The “Next-Gen” system that will incorporated into Bigfoot Biomedical system will function as a real-time device with alarms and constant feedback monitoring with a smartphone.
  • The sensor is quite sensitive to cold.

A few errors I encountered this week

  • It reads “LO” for blood glucose values that I’ve had in the 60′s – that is a bit of a head scratcher.
  • I have received 1 error that asked me to scan again in 10 minutes.

I can’t wait to use the Bigfoot biomedical closed loop system that uses the FreeStyle Libre as the CGM. The performance of this CGM was above and beyond what I was expecting. Give it a try – it’s the most affordable on the market too!


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