Temperature monitoring is a daily responsibility; you need to keep all laboratory specimens in a monitored environment to maintain their potency. In fact, the CDC recommends logging lab refrigerator and freezer temperatures twice daily. Malfunctions are always a risk, so recording temperatures more than once is absolutely necessary.
Establishing a temperature monitoring system and upholding it will not only keep you from losing your medical materials, but also from losing time and money. At K2 Scientific, we want to help you thoroughly understand the importance of temperature control and displays, so you can improve your facility’s temperature monitoring equipment and procedures.
The importance of temperature monitoring
Maintaining the cold chain is crucial in any medical laboratory, especially when it comes to storing temperature-sensitive materials. There are three things that can help you maintain an effective cold chain: a properly-trained staff, accurate inventory management, and, most importantly, the right temperature monitoring equipment. A vaccine or sample’s temperature greatly impacts its shelf life and potency. If stored improperly, you waste vaccines and patients will need revaccination.
There isn’t a universal temperature for biological samples or vaccines, as it varies depending on what you’re storing. But monitoring your items through recording and logging data lets your facility know actual sample and vaccine temperatures.
Record the minimum and maximum temperature when each work day begins and when it ends. If temperatures are not where they should be, you’ll need to take immediate action. There’s no such thing as obsessing too much over your units’ contents. Frequently checking will put your mind at ease.
Today, temperature monitoring equipment is affordable and easily accessible. The CDC mentions that these tools are like insurance for your facility, and for your best protection and the protection of your vaccines and samples, you need to include them.
It’s no secret that medical refrigerators and freezers have different recommended temperature ranges.
For refrigerators, you should keep the unit’s temperature between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F). If you need to store materials in a freezer, keep the unit between -50°C and -15°C (-58°F and +5°F). Having a range accommodates any temperature swings that may occur. Be sure you know exactly what items you’ll be storing in your unit before you buy it. You must buy a medical-grade unit, not a household unit, in order to successfully protect your contents. Medical refrigerators are designed to meet much tighter temperature ranges!
When you’re first using your medical refrigerator, you’ll notice that your unit’s thermostat isn’t as accurate as a temperature monitoring device. This is because it simply measures coldness rather than the actual sample temperatures. For more information regarding your thermostat, make sure you read the owner’s manual from your unit.
Take advantage of modern thermometer technology
Previously, people would monitor temperatures with a thermometer, pen, and paper. From there, facilities started using minimum/maximum thermometers. Now, technology offers more detailed data, and it’s free of human error. Go ahead and put the pen down!
To transition from manual to technological recording, you should know that every unit needs to have a TMD, or temperature monitoring device. Keep in mind that there are some models that have limitations, such as being difficult to read. The CDC recommends that you don’t use the following devices for monitoring purposes:
- Food TMDs
- Infrared TMDs
- Alcohol or mercury thermometers
When you buy a TMD from a hardware or appliance store, you aren’t necessarily purchasing a device designed for medical use. It’s critical that you invest in TMDs designed specifically for the medical field.
Better yet, if you can, purchase a DDL (digital data logger) with a buffered probe. This probe is buffered with glycol, which insulates the device and keeps it from responding so quickly to temperature fluctuations. Therefore, it’s able to match sample and vaccine temperatures more closely.
A DDL provides the most accurate way to measure temperatures, providing details about actual sample and vaccine temperatures at preset intervals. The best part about a DDL is that it records everything on internal memory. From there, you can download the data to a computer with special software. It simplifies the recording process, since all you need to do is transfer the data. A DDL can even continue to monitor your unit’s temperature while it sends the data to your computer!
You should also have a DDL for your emergency storage units. Don’t forget to purchase backup devices, too.
Invest in a top-of-the-line unit
When it comes to properly maintaining temperatures, modern units are advantageous. Today, the majority of refrigerators display internal temperatures outside the unit, so you don’t have to constantly open the door to check the temperature.
There are a variety of sizes and styles from numerous companies to choose from out there, but we stand out from the rest. K2 Scientific leads in creating innovative medical, laboratory, and pharmaceutical storage. Our medical refrigerators and freezers feature intelligent microprocessor controllers with digital displays and adjustable temperature control. Additionally, our units include high and low temperature alarms that immediately alert you if mechanical or power issues arise. This way, you can keep medical materials at consistent temperatures. Plus, did we mention that these units also feature heavy-duty locks? Your medical materials will stay secure, sitting at the correct temperature until you need them.
Notes for new units
It’s always going to take time for a new unit’s temperature to stabilize. For refrigerators, it may take up to a week, and for freezers, about two or three days. During this stabilization period, you need to check the minimum and maximum temperatures every day.
If you have two consecutive days of minimum and maximum temperatures in the recommended storage ranges, your unit is ready for use.
Don’t let your samples or vaccines sit in conditions that aren’t within their temperature thresholds. You may feel tempted to pick up an inexpensive fridge or to neglect to buy top-notch TMDs, but temperature fluctuation issues can seriously damage or eliminate the effectiveness of your medical materials.
Invest in temperature monitoring devices and units you can count on—purchase through K2 Scientific. Browse our selection of state-of-the-art refrigerators and freezers today.