One of many important tasks for nursing, pathology and pharmacy staff is ensuring their medicine fridge temperatures are within range.
The question quickly comes to mind: ‘How often should medicine fridge temperatures be checked?’
The answer to the number of checks that is legally required is fairly simple. Temperatures in medicine fridges as well as rooms should be checked on a daily basis. The refrigerators should be between 2°C and 8°C. The ambient temperature should be no more than 25°C.
During daily checks you log minimum and maximum temperature and reset the temperature. Any actions taken need to be logged.
Very straightforward, but what frequency is ideal? Or maybe more importantly, how should you check your medicine fridge temperature?
The level of error in daily fridge temperature checks
A daily check provides you with some assurance medicine are kept at the right temperature. Yet there are risks involved in performing checks merely on a daily basis.
Fridge temperatures fluctuate as staff open the fridge to take out medication to administer this to a patient. If a fridge is left open, the temperature will start to rise. This may happen at any moment. With daily checks the temperature fluctuation will not be recorded.
Let’s paint a picture here. Say a routine check is performed at 9am. At 1pm you open a fridge for a vaccine and forget to close it. The temperature rises from 7°C to 12°C, now exposing the stored medicine to spoilage.
You’re busy helping a patient and forget about the fridge. Sometime after you notice the fridge is open, quickly close it and continue helping a patient.
At 9am the following day the fridge has restored to a nice and safe 7°C, which means there is no recording of that exposure, which may have put the medicine at risk.
A scenario as such is not uncommon yet poses a great risk to medicine safety.
In a different scenario, say you spot the fridge is open. You might not remember whether the fridge had been open for 5 minutes or an hour. To be on the safe side, you log the action and decide you need to throw away the medicine as they may have spoiled.
To know whether the medicine actually spoiled, hourly logs or even minute-by-minute logs would be ideal.
However, manually checking the medicine fridge temperature this way is not feasible. Fortunately, there is a solution available.
Monitoring medicine fridge temperatures manually or digitally
There are different ways you can approach checking your medicine fridge temperature. You could dedicate a member or multiple members of staff to checking the fridge temperature.
For larger organisations, such as hospitals this can take up a significant amount of time.
Choosing a digital solution could free up time and reduce the amount of effort put into checking medicine fridge temperature. After all it does the job for you.
A large hospital or hospital trust can easily have hundreds of medicine fridges installed in one or multiple buildings.
Monitoring these different fridges takes time and diligence. In many cases healthcare staff does routine temperature checks.
This means a dedicated member of staff walks to the fridge, looks at the thermometer and records the temperature on a digital or paper sheet. Once the log is finished, they continue on with their other tasks.
During COVID-19 priorities have at times shifted and time has been scarce. Even more scarce than before. This has at times resulted in failing to monitor fridge temperatures. This puts pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare organisations at risk of not meeting CQC requirements.
A preferable method for many healthcare staff involves a modern approach of monitoring medicine fridge temperatures.
A complete solution such as Temp Tracker uses data loggers and software. This combination means medicine fridge temperatures are monitored automatically for you. Additionally, records of temperature measurement and actions taken are logged in the system.
So rather than manual checks, the data logger and software do the job for you, helping you in an easy way to comply with CQC requirements.
With this digital method, there’s no need for daily checks. Rather you can respond to alarms that the software sends to your phone or email. This allows you to respond to temperature deviations straight away.
From hourly checks to daily checks, how have you arranged your medicine fridge monitoring at your organisation?
The content above is based on internal knowledge and extensive research. However, since this page may not be updated and thus may not record the most up-to-date information, we cannot be held liable for the information on the page. Please inform on the exact procedures on cqc.org.uk and other relevant authorities.