One of the most critical roles for pharmacies and medical lab practitioners is to ensure that the med fridge's temperature is within range. And that begs the question, how often should you check the temperatures of a medical fridge? To answer that, we've prepared a comprehensive guide illustrating why temperature monitoring is essential, why it should be done daily, plus the general best practices for appropriate temperature logging. So let's jump right in!
Why is it Critical to Monitor Medical Fridge Temperature?
Like most consumer goods, medications have a shelf life. Fortunately, medical labs and pharmacies can extend most drugs' longevity and potency by storing them under monitored temperatures. Such medicines as eye drops, antibiotics, some topical creams, insulin, and vaccines require storage at regulated temperatures to optimize their effectiveness.
In essence, there are two main reasons why you want to store medications under monitored temperatures:
To Avoid Changes in Potency
When such medications are exposed to inappropriate temperatures, their stability and effectiveness could get compromised. Put otherwise; adverse temperatures may cause the medicines to degrade and form impurities. While the impurities may not be visible from the outlook, they may cause serious complications upon usage. Therefore, the only way to maintain drug potency and integrity is to store them in low-temperature ranges.
To Avoid Premature Expiry
If a medication requires cold storage and you store it under room temperature, or worse, hot conditions, it will expire quickly. Exposing the drugs to different temperatures alters the active chemicals' molecular form. When this happens, the drugs may begin to decompose, making them less effective, toxic, and in worst-case scenarios, result in new effects. So it's critical to store such sensitive drugs within the right temperature range to maintain their molecular composition.
What's the Appropriate Temperature Range for a Med Fridge?
According to the Center for Disease Control, CDC, medical freezers used to store vaccines, and other medications should maintain an air temperature ranging between 36℉ and 46℉, with 40℉ being the median. Anything beyond or below that is considered out of range and should be reset back to normal.
Why Should You Monitor Medical Fridge Temperature Daily?
There are several reasons why medical practitioners should monitor the temperatures of med fridges. But above all is the need to maintain the cold chain, i.e., the process of keeping medications at the appropriate temperature from the manufacturing stage to the point of usage.
Keeping an eye on the med fridge to ensure that the medicines and the vaccines are kept at the right temperature goes a long way in ensuring that they're potent and safe to administer to patients. Below is a discussion of how to confirm that the medications are being stored at the appropriate temperature.
Daily Checkups and Temperature Logging
There's no denying that medical fridges can independently maintain the temperature needed for the correct storage of medicines and vaccines. Some modern refrigerators are equipped with the technology to alert you when the temperature falls out of range. But medical practitioners still have a role to play - we're talking about periodically logging the temperatures.
Here's the kicker, though; performing daily checks and logging temperatures comes with its fair share of risks and levels of errors, especially when not carefully done. Fridge temperatures may fluctuate when a practitioner opens it to take out medicine to administer to a patient. If the practitioner leaves the freezer open, temperatures will begin to increase. The real problem is that this (opening the fridge) may happen at any time, but the temperature fluctuations won't be logged during routine checks.
Let's put everything into perspective here. Assuming you usually conduct a routine temperature check at 8 am and at noon, you open the fridge to take out particular medicine but forget to close it. Consequently, the temperature rises from 46℉ to 52℉, risking the potency of the stored medications.
As you're busy administering drugs to patients, it later dawns on you that you forgot to close the fridge. At that moment, you quickly rush to close it and resume your duties immediately. The following day at 8 am, when performing your daily monitor, you notice that the temperature has restored to its safe and normal 46℉. That means there's no trace or record of the previous day's exposure which may have compromised the stored medicines' safety.
In another scenario, you spot the med fridge open, but you don't recall how long it has been that way. At this point, you log the temperature instantly and decide to dispose of the stored medications as they may have lost potency. But that's equivalent to doing two wrongs to make right - it doesn't work that way!
So the big question is: how can you avoid all these mishaps? Simple! The solution lies in regularly logging the med fridge temperatures. Whereas the recommended logging frequency is once per day, it would be ideal to do it more times, say twice per day or even hourly if possible.
Here are the three steps for frequently checking and logging min/max med fridge temperatures:
- Checking of Min/Max temperatures: Here, you should check and note the current coldest and warmest temperatures while referring to the last time you reset the thermometers. The most important checks should be at the start and close of the workday, and you can also check in-between depending on your preferred interval. After every review, be sure to log the temperature recorded on a paper or digital sheet.
- Resetting: Your med fridge should have a reset button that you push after every check and logging of min/max temperatures. Be sure to reset the refrigerator to the ideal temperature of 40℉.
- Continuous Monitoring: Checking temperatures should be a constant process every time you access the refrigerator to get medicine or vaccine. This helps in pointing out any potential disparities resulting from the frequent opening and closing of the med fridge.
How We Can Help
Here at American BioTech Supply, we specialize in developing state-of-the-art freezers, fridges, and other cold storage solutions. We leverage our immense experience, expertise, and resources to offer technologically optimized solutions to medical labs and pharmacies all across America. For more information, contact us today!