When considering the vast range of products designed for cold storage, the disparity in how that end is achieved is staggering. Along with the wide variety in cost is an accompanying variety in quality. Given the financial and therapeutic value of today’s medications and related products, each pharmacy must weigh the relative value of upfront budget expenditures against preventing a 4am phone call informing you that the refrigerator holding the vaccines for children failed . . . 6 hours ago.
Investing in the right refrigeration and temperature monitoring equipment pays dividends in terms of smooth regulatory inspections, fewer maintenance problems, and increased staff satisfaction. These concepts are relatively easy to quantify. There is one other thing these products also provide that is a bit more difficult to put on a spreadsheet—the value of peace of mind.
Simply put, in the pharmacy, medical-grade refrigerators outperform food refrigerators in all categories: They are better at maintaining acceptable temperature ranges, withstand heavy use, and offer improved storage functionality. While regulatory bodies typically do not endorse one product over another, the CDC and The Joint Commission have stated that dormitory-style, combined refrigerator/freezer units are unacceptable for the storage of vaccines. Furthermore, The Joint Commission has noted that medication refrigerators typically excel at properly storing medications whereas refrigerators designed for food storage do not.
Achieving precise temperature conditions is essential, as is the ability to ensure these conditions in perpetuity. The CDC recommends the use of continuous monitoring devices for temperature monitoring and other accreditation and regulatory bodies expect the pharmacy to be able to produce evidence of continuous monitoring.
An investment in quality, medical-grade refrigeration and temperature monitoring devices designed specifically for medication storage is an investment in patient safety. With quality equipment that is properly maintained, there should be no 4am phone calls.
All the best,
R. Mitchell Halvorsen
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