“It just says ‘High.'”
I winced. My patient, a man with type 1 diabetes who had emigrated from Latin America two weeks earlier, was reading a finger prick result on his blood sugar meter to me over the phone. Normal blood sugar ranges between 70 and 100. Beyond 600, the meter loses accuracy and spits out an understated “High” instead of an actual number. I knew what this seemingly innocuous message meant: My patient was at risk for serious, even deadly complications from a critically high blood sugar. And I had known there was a chance his blood sugar would spike when I switched his insulin regimen.