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The importance of temperature monitoring systems in hospital refrigerators

09 May 2024

How advanced temperature monitoring technologies are improving hospital refrigeration safety

Accurate temperature management in hospital refrigerators is critical to preserving the efficacy of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, preventing health risks to patients and significant economic losses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maintaining proper temperatures in hospital refrigerators is critical: for example, one episode of improper temperature can reduce the effectiveness of stored vaccines by more than 35 percent, resulting in negative public health consequences and increased healthcare costs. This is more likely to happen with manual monitoring systems, which are more prone to error.

Thanks to modern medical refrigeration technologies such as automatic alarms, accurate temperature sensors and automated data logging systems, today's hospital freezers and refrigerators can ensure optimal temperature control. These technological advances not only reduce the margin for human error, but also ensure a timely and accurate response to temperature changes, which is critical to maintaining the integrity of medications.


Temperature monitoring systems in hospital refrigerators: policy and compliance with EMA guidelines

Hospital refrigerators and medical freezers vary according to the material stored and their specific function. Each hospital or healthcare facility follows its own policy adapted to its own needs, but must also follow general guidelines to ensure the safety and effectiveness of treatments.. For the proper storage of medicines, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has defined Good Distribution Practice (GDP), which covers all stages of the distribution chain, including transport and storage. These guidelines ensure that the quality and integrity of medicines, vaccines and biologicals are maintained, even in hospital refrigerators, to ensure safety up to the point of final use.

Key points of these guidelines, which also cover the policy on temperature monitoring systems for hospital refrigerators, include:

  • Validation and qualification: refrigerators used in hospitals must be validated and qualified to demonstrate that they can maintain the required temperature under all anticipated operating conditions.
  • Continuous monitoring: temperature monitoring devices must be used to continuously record the temperatures inside the refrigerators. This data must be checked regularly and stored for a specified period of time.
  • Alarms: refrigeration systems shall be equipped with alarms to signal deviations from set temperatures. This will allow early intervention to mitigate any potential negative impact on the quality of medicines.
  • Emergency procedures: emergency procedures must be in place to respond to incidents that affect temperature management, such as refrigerator failure or power outages.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities must therefore ensure that the management and storage of medicines meets quality and integrity standards. It is important to note that the EMA's Good Distribution Practice (GDP) is not the only guideline that hospitals need to follow; there are other local and international standards and regulations that influence safety management in healthcare.

Essential components for effective temperature monitoring in hospital refrigerators

A properly equipped hospital medical refrigerator for accurate temperature monitoring should include the following components:

  • Temperature sensors: these sensors must provide accurate and continuous measurements. 
  • Visual and audible alarms: alarms are essential to alert healthcare staff to critical changes in temperature. These alarms can prevent damage to sensitive products and allow immediate action to be taken to restore optimum conditions.
  • Data loggers: essential for documenting the stability of internal conditions. This automated recording system reduces the need for manual checks, minimising human error and ensuring accurate and reliable documentation of temperatures. In addition, the recorded data can be used for compliance analysis, internal audits or accident investigations. These devices can also help to identify trends in refrigerator malfunctions before critical failures occur. 
  • Digital display: A clear, easy-to-read display facilitates daily monitoring and allows staff to quickly check the temperature without opening the fridge, minimising temperature variations due to exposure to the outside air.
  • Back-up battery: in the event of a power failure or problem, the back-up battery ensures that temperature monitoring and control continues uninterrupted, protecting the sensitive contents of the refrigerator.
  • Ballasted temperature probes: These probes are designed to mimic the thermal response of the products stored in the refrigerator, providing a more accurate representation of the actual conditions experienced by the products themselves.
  • Predefined alarm response actions: It is not enough to have an alarm system; it is also critical to have a defined protocol for responding to alarms. This may include procedures for evaluating and safely transferring products to another functioning refrigerator, as well as steps to resolve the cause of the alarm.

By incorporating these components and ensuring adequate staff training, a hospital refrigerator can provide maximum protection for medicines, vaccines and other sensitive materials, minimising the risk of loss of expensive and vital healthcare products.

Evermed's hospital refrigerators for proper temperature monitoring

Depending on the type of medical products to be stored and the specific needs of your hospital or healthcare facility, Evermed offers a wide range of hospital refrigeration equipment such as hospital refrigerators, medical freezers, medical devices and cold rooms with built-in temperature monitoring systems. Explore our range of hospital refrigerators and freezers with state-of-the-art technology such as LED displays, data loggers with USB port, battery backup, visual and audible alarms and weighted temperature probes for accurate product simulation. 

For customised solutions to meet your specific needs, contact Evermed!


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