Parents of Children With Diabetes Are Furious Following the Blackout of a Major Blood Sugar Monitoring Software
Dexcom’s continuous glucose monitoring technology has been a quiet revolution for diabetes patients. The wearable patch keeps tabs on diabetics’ blood sugar levels in real time. What’s more, the Dexcom G5 and G6 devices can transmit information to a smartphone app through a service called Dexcom Follow—critical for the parents and caregivers of diabetics, who can receive instant notifications of dangerous oscillations in blood glucose for those who may not be capable of monitoring such data themselves.
But, at some point late Friday evening, the Dexcom Follow service went dark. And it still hadn’t been fully restored as of Monday afternoon, according to an update on the company’s Facebook account.
The outage—and the lag time between the service blackout and Dexcom’s notifications to its customers—had many parents in a fury. Children with type 1 diabetes require intensive monitoring to account for blood glucose spikes and falls and, as you might imagine, nighttime over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend might require greater vigilance.
Caregivers shared their displeasure on the company’s Facebook updates, with some noting that their children could potentially have died in their sleep.
“I understand tech issues happen and I’m so grateful for Dexcom! But I woke up in a panic at 6am after I realized the share app went down and I hadn’t received a single “no data” notification,” wrote one parent. “No alert, nothing. My son went unattended from 1am-6am. A bit terrifying and unacceptable.”
There have been no reports, so far, of devastating health effects resulting from the outage.
Many noted that a technological breakdown is understandable—but a dearth of communication isn’t. “What is upsetting is the ridiculously long delay in Dexcom updating or notifying anyone that they were having an issue with their technology, especially considering that it took place when many children were going to bed or in bed already,” said another caregiver.
Some users discovered the issue when they checked the app Saturday morning and found a blank screen, according to the New York Times. One of the first updates was posted to Dexcom’s Facebook page at 8:03 a.m. Pacific on Saturday—multiple hours after the outage occurred.
The company is warning users not to delete Dexcom Follow or the Dexcom G5 or G6 continuous glucose monitoring apps since doing so might cause the applications to malfunction. That specific update wasn’t posted onto Dexcom’s Facebook page until 2:10 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday, more than 24 after the problem reportedly occurred. The firm is headquartered in San Diego, California.
The issue has yet to be totally resolved.
“At this time, the Dexcom Follow services have not yet been fully restored but we have seen significant improvement in system performance,” said a company spokesperson in an emailed statement. “Our teams continue to analyze the effectiveness of the changes we’re making and are working around the clock on a complete resolution.”
And it’s still unclear exactly what happened, although the company has alluded to a bandwidth problem.
“We are still investigating official root cause,” wrote Dexcom. “However, we have determined that a server overload occurred due to an unexpected system issue that generated a massive backlog, which our system was unable to sufficiently handle.”
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