San Diego

Families Frustrated After Popular Diabetes Monitoring Devices Stop Sharing Vital Data

Dexcom is a San Diego-based company that creates continuous blood glucose monitoring devices

Families of children with type 1 diabetes were frustrated after a technical issue caused a popular monitoring device to stop sharing crucial blood sugar readings and alerts. The San Diego-based global company Dexcom acknowledged a server malfunction for its glucose reading products early Saturday morning.

The company creates wearable devices for people with diabetes that constantly collect blood glucose information and can send updates to "following" phone apps every five minutes, according to its website.

But over the holiday weekend, those updates stopped coming.

“Attention Dexcom CGM users: We're aware of an issue with Dexcom Follow that may cause users to not receive CGM data or alerts. We are actively working on a resolution,” the website said in part.

Once the technical problems began, parents said Dexcom’s app did not provide updated readings, in addition the app did not notify them that the data stopped being shared with them in the first place.

The device helps track blood glucose levels even while their children are sleeping. Updates and alerts allow users and, in some cases, their parents to remedy the situation quickly before anything more serious develops.

A mother in Temecula said this past weekend was awful as she tried to manage her 6-year-old's type 1 diabetes.

"When I woke up, I was completely freaked out because we had no signal," mother Veronica Cordova told NBC 7. "What I saw on my phone was a lot in the red zone for at least an hour or two."

Cordova keeps juice boxes by Christian's bed because if he does not wake up and drink juice with sugars in time, the disease can turn deadly, she said.

Dexcom Outage Christian Graph

"That we find him not breathing, that's my worst fear," she added tearfully. "We are so blessed that we have never had a situation where we have had to use a glucagon."

Cordova said she would like to receive an alert immediately about a downed server if it were to happen again.

"Dexcom has been a lifesaver for Christian, literally a lifesaver," she added.

NBC 7's Danica McAdam also has type 1 diabetes, uses a Dexcom device and said she shares her blood sugar levels with her husband so he can help make sure her levels do not drop too low or too high.

NBC 7 reached out to Dexcom to learn about how this issue first began.

"It was an unexpected system issue that caused the cloud architecture system to become overloaded, king of generating a massive backlog of communication between the app and so people were getting intermittent connectivity," Dexcom's Chief Technology Officer Jake Leach said.

"We truly apologize to our users," Leach added.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, Dexcom said the "Follow" service had been restored to "near normal performance."

The outage only affected users in the United States, but Dexcom does have users around the world.

Dexcom also told NBC 7 that it will replace any device or supplies that may have been replaced unnecessarily or compromised as users tried to troubleshoot over the weekend.

NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala reports on the device being developed and sold by biotech company Dexcom that may change the way many people monitor their blood sugar.

In a 2017 interview with NBC 7, Executive Vice President Steve Pacelli said, "Imagine a parent going to bed at night worrying about a child living with diabetes having a hypoglycemia or low blood sugar event at night.”

“That patient or parent has the peace of mind to know if the child has a problem at night, if the child goes low with their blood sugar the parent will actually be alerted on their smartphone as well as the child. So it’s a wonderful, wonderful tool," Pacelli added.

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