Precise temperature monitoring of refrigerators, freezers, and warmers is vital to ensure patient safety, as well as to remain compliant with medication management standards and reduce potentially costly product loss.
One-third of hospitals receive noncompliant scores when surveyed on the Joint Commission’s MM.03.01.01-Medication Storage standards, a significant statistic when one considers the potential patient risks and facility expense at stake. Manually recording refrigeration temperatures on paper has the potential for being missed and is usually done only once or twice a day. Automated monitoring systems are easy to use and customizable, allowing the user to monitor and document a range of information such as temperature, pressure, humidity, and other important measures, depending on the sensors installed. Upon logging in, the user can view refrigerator groups and their current status, obtaining a snapshot of which refrigerators are in and out of range. The system displays graphs of data points collected over a selected period of time (eg, the previous week or month) on any of the units selected, and these time periods can be adjusted as needed. The system also can generate a variety of useful reports on any or all of the units, display an example of the report before printing or exporting, and provide alerts such as low battery warnings to prevent transmission interruptions. Alert notifications are also customizable; the user can set the parameters and designate the alert method to be used.
Temperature monitoring systems can record temperatures at configurable intervals (eg, 30 or 60 minutes) to ensure that medications are stored at the appropriate temperature and that the equipment is working properly. This feature is useful in maintaining regulatory compliance, especially when clinics are closed and staff members are not available to check and record the unit temperatures consistently.
Considering the average value of medications in hospital refrigerators, the use of a temperature monitoring system can serve as insurance against costly medication loss due to mechanical failure. While a thermometer can display whether a unit was out of range according to the parameters set, it cannot indicate the length of time the unit was out of range, as a temperature monitoring system can. Although some products can exceed the labeled storage temperature requirements for a brief period, without an automated system, the length of time the unit has been out of range is unknown; thus, the product must be destroyed. With an automated system, considerable financial waste is prevented. And with wireless technology, transmitting information using Wi-Fi allows facilities to add and move units as needed, thereby avoiding the expense and inconvenience of structural changes.
Finally, the valuable information gleaned from temperature monitoring systems systems not only helps to identify low-performing refrigeration, freezer, and warmer units when considering equipment replacement, but also provides additional justification for upgrading from nonmedical-grade refrigerators to medical-grade units, consequently improving medication safety and patient care.
Dennis DelaBarre, RPh, assistant director of pharmacy at St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, North Dakota since 2002, is responsible for directing purchasing, staffing, and inventory management. Dennis’ professional interests lie in data and systems analysis to improve efficiencies and medication safety, and to reduce costs.
Special PP&P Buyer’s Guide: Temperature Monitoring Systems
The Accsense Ethernet temperature monitor is designed for use with medical refrigerators, freezers, and incubators with live remote monitoring. It has connections for two external RTD temperature probes and one thermocouple sensor. There is no software to install and in the event of a loss of network connection it will store up to 256 data points. The unit can operate on Power Over Ethernet (POE) or a main power unit and is completely automated with secure data transmission and storage using SSL and certificate encryption. The Accsense A2-05 data logger offers complete flexibility in setting local and remote alarms with phone, email, and text alerts.
> From CAS Dataloggers
The Web600 system provides continuous monitoring and reporting for up to six temperature sensors, which are available as metal probes or packaged inside of glass bead-filled vials. Both style sensors are available to monitor freezers down to -85ºC and NIST calibration certificates are available. The Web600 is compatible with third-party Thermistor temperature sensors and can monitor other conditions such as humidity and power failure. Immediate alarm notification for all conditions is provided via email and text message. With an optional battery backup, the system can operate for up to three hours during a power outage and data logging and trending is built in with storage for 64,000 time-stamped records. The Web600 has no software maintenance costs and no monthly fees.
> From Sensaphone
The enhanced TempTrak version 4.5 software now supports a 32- and 64-bit Microsoft SQL server. It allows a selectable default of Fahrenheit or Celsius and accepts the configuration of multiple contact transmitters. In addition, a new feature has been implemented that allows notes to be applied to the transmitter (sensor) readings. This allows the user to add comments and reference information to the temperature sensor graph that is saved in the history data. The new Wi-Fi transmitters operate on a standard 802.11 b/g network and are capable of collecting, storing, and transmitting temperature (-328° to 500°F/-200° to 260°C), relative humidity, contact (door open/close), and analog voltage data.
> From Cooper-Atkins
The VersaTrak monitoring system proves the accuracy of every transmitter, enterprise-wide, using its Automatic NIST Calibration (ANC) technology. Any ANC wireless transmitter on the VersaTrak Enterprise 5 system can be verified through the software. Check one transmitter or the entire system at any time, or per scheduled testing intervals. The system tracks and records each test and will automatically notify in the event a transmitter fails. By eliminating the costly onsite engineering time needed in validation testing, annual operating costs are greatly reduced. ANC is available for both Wi-Fi and 900 MHz transmitters.
VersaTrak also features the Intelligent Messaging reply function, which provides two-way communication for those alerted. When notified of an alert, any user is able to respond by simply replying to the notification; there is no need to log onto a computer in order to clear an alert or log a corrective action. As soon as a reply is received, the system will automatically clear all the remaining pop-up alerts that were originally sent.
> From Veracity Group Inc
The CompX eLock provides network–wireless 802.11g or Ethernet–temperature monitoring and access control for cold storage applications. The eLock automatically logs temperature data points at predetermined times. Through the facility’s network, chosen staff members are notified immediately of any out-of-temperature range occurrences. Since the CompX eLock is a keyless device, there are no keys to lose or share. The eLock allows users secure access with existing ID cards or PIN numbers, and maintains an extensive audit trail of access attempts.
> From CompX Security Products
The EDL-RF2 and EDL-Net temperature loggers monitor shipments and storage areas through real-time, multiuser, multisite local access, and remote access via the Web. Data from the loggers can be manipulated using MDAS software, which is easy to access, accurate, and secure. All devices undergo multipoint temperature validation and are NIST-traceable. Through the MDAS software, users can set temperature-reading intervals, record the duration and high and low temperature alarms, and enable alarm notification by email, phone, or SMS. A 21 CFR Part 11–compliant version is available. The microDL can monitor shipments, freezers, refrigerators, warmers, and incubators, and its LCD shows summary statistics. Connected to a computer, it gives a complete, detailed record, including a graphic plot of the complete temperature record.
> From Marathon Products
The VL/SP 1200 data logger for temperature monitoring and validation is equipped with a large, on-board memory and 10-year battery backup. The compact data logger renders recorded data immune to loss during power failures or network interruptions and is available with either one or two temperature channels, accommodating two probes or one internal sensor and one probe. The VL/SP 1200 is ideal for monitoring within a range of -55°C to +40°C (-67°F to +104°F). Each logger comes with NIST-traceable, A2LA-accredited calibration certificates, and automated reporting features ensure full compliance with state and federal requirements. The data logger also combines with Vaisala’s monitoring system software, viewLinc, to provide alarming, real-time trending, and secure records with an audit trail.
> From Vaisala
The LIBERO is an independent monitoring solution used for shipment monitoring or as a simple alternative or backup to a central monitoring system. The device accommodates temperature ranges from -200°C to +200°C (+/- 0.2°C accuracy depending on range) or temperature and humidity. The LIBERO has a real-time LCD display with access to min, max, and average temperatures. Each LIBERO model has a visual alarm; however, an audible alarm bracket can be wired to a telephone dialer or in-house alarm for remote notification. The LIBERO includes a NIST-traceable validation certificate and is 21 CFR Part 11–compliant. No software or hardware is required to download data. It is available in three battery life options: 100 day (common for single-use shipments), 400 day (multiuse), and three year (multiuse).
> From Elpro Services
The WiZARD2 provides simple, scalable, wireless data logging for monitoring critical storage conditions easily and reliably. The WiZARD2 system transmits information directly to your computer with a single receiver and wirelessly manages your entire environment, whether you are using one logger or sixty. Each logger measures temperature or temperature and humidity and comes in probe, display, and alarm configurations. WiZARD2 loggers also feature battery backup to ensure data capture even in the event of a power outage. The system alerts designated users of any alarm situations via email or text message.
> From Dickson
The FlashLinkRF wireless 2.4 GHz logger system is designed to help customers qualify temperature and humidity conditions throughout their environment, including storerooms, cabinets, refrigerators, freezers, cleanrooms, and processing rooms. The system offers wide area, real-time monitoring, recording, and alarm with user-defined set-up, continuous monitoring, and complete management reporting for temperature and humidity. It meets or exceeds regulatory guidelines for the maintenance of environmental monitoring records. The system also simplifies record keeping for HACCP and quality assurance. Observations are collected 24/7, with no human intervention; when an out-of-range excursion is detected, an onsite and mobile alert is activated. FlashLinkRF has a reliable, secure database management system that uses interactive, multilevel facilities mapping software.
> From DeltaTRAK
Synchronous Network System (SNS) temperature monitoring provides an automated approach to monitoring important refrigerated assets such as vaccines and biologics. The Wi-Fi enabled sensor connects over your existing wireless network to deliver temperature readings to a central software application for logging, reporting, and data archiving. Available with single or dual thermistor probes, the sensor mounts outside the refrigeration unit while probes are inserted into refrigerated compartments. A built-in LCD displays real-time readings for up to two zones, including diagnostic information. Alerts generated from readings that cross predefined thresholds can be audible or emailed to notify the appropriate contacts. In the event of AC power loss, the device contains backup power for uninterrupted operation until power is restored.
> From Primex Wireless
The CMS-II Central Monitoring System offers comprehensive monitoring and documentation of all pharmacy refrigerators and other equipment temperatures and environmental conditions. This system can meet the needs of a small pharmacy, as well as allowing seamless integration of facilities with multiple departments and buildings in many locations on the same network. The system is SQL-based and can operate stand-alone or be integrated into an existing IT environment. Multiple equipment groups and user groups allow for precise assignment of responsibility and authority for each monitored location. The user can define each point’s description, alarm set points, and procedures. Custom reports can be created using off-the-shelf SQL reporting software. Notification of all alarms can be made via printer, phone or cell phone, pager, or email.
> From Hampshire Controls Corporation
The Centron Wi-Fi System is designed to reduce the overall adoption process, as the new line of Wi-Fi transmitters utilize existing infrastructure to minimize site impact and enable quick installation. The Wi-Fi system is available with Rees Scientific’s full line of sensors, including temperature, humidity, light, and differential pressure. It is able to accept up to four industry standard inputs, and each module can buffer up to seven days of readings history recorded at 15-minute intervals. The modules are FCC-certified and battery backed up.
> From Rees Scientific
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