Imagine losing a sample and having to sift through a hundred poorly organized items trying to find it. Yeah, it’s never a good feeling. But you can take steps to avoid that situation, so why let your hunt for samples or vaccines be something you dread? Organize your units and relax, knowing where everything belongs.
While lab refrigerator organization makes finding the right samples less frustrating, it’s also important for optimal unit efficiency. With the best performance, you can ensure that medical materials remain uncontaminated. We’ve put together a few tips to help you keep your medical grade refrigerators, freezers, and overall facility organized.
Keep like items together
Maintaining consistent lab refrigerator organization standards can be a challenge, but don’t let organization go out the window completely. Grouping similar items should be one of those things everybody in your facility already understands. Important medical materials shouldn’t be placed just anywhere.
Store blood samples with blood samples, vaccines with vaccines, and breast milk with breast milk. It’s that simple, and it relieves future headaches.
Use labels, organizers, and dividers
Labels are one of the most crucial parts of the organization process, especially if you’re working with different samples that look similar. Clearly labeled items will help facility workers identify exactly what’s in the unit. A sample without a label can easily become lost. Co-workers read labels to familiarize themselves with what’s in a specific unit, so label all samples—and label them differently from one another. Furthermore, be sure that you’re updating them frequently.
Clear organizers and divider boxes make it easy to store vaccines and samples, because you can house multiple vials in one place. Some companies even offer color-coding systems! Regardless of the organization systems you buy and use, these ensure that everyone can easily see what’s in stock. Also, each type of sample or vaccine should be stored in a separate container.
When you work in a lab, you need to update your inventory regularly. Therefore, in addition to using physical organization methods, such as dividers, labels, and organizers, you should be routinely managing your inventory on a computer, phone, or tablet.
Living in a digital age has its perks, including making your work easier. Whether you prefer to use spreadsheets, software, or even a combination of apps, keeping track of inventory with technology makes organizing your samples or vaccines a breeze. If you’re going the spreadsheet route, simply be sure the documents containing your recorded data can be shared with others in your facility. With any platform, back up all files constantly.
First and foremost, you should become very familiar with your appliances and their temperature zones.
If storage isn’t correct the first time, you’re giving yourself more work later. You’re also putting the material at risk—sometimes just a few minutes in the wrong conditions can ruin a sample.
Here are a few more tips for storing medical products safely and effectively:
- Make sure you store in a way that lets you see and access everything in plain view.
- No matter the unit you purchase for your facility, you must make sure it offers maximum storage. This way, you can store items in rows and leave ample space between the organizers or dividers. Packing materials too tightly prevents air circulation, potentially causing damage to your vaccines or samples.
- Temperature-sensitive materials should take priority in any fridge or freezer organization project. They should never be placed in the arm of a refrigerator.
- Potentially dangerous items should be stored away from materials that can cause reactions.
- Avoid circular containers—if you push a round container toward one of the back corners of the fridge, it’s not using space efficiently. Meanwhile, should a square container get tucked away near the back, it’s going to lay flat against the corners.
- Be careful not to add too many items to a medical grade refrigerator or freezer all at once. This can cause unnecessary temperature fluctuations.
Take it one shelf at a time
You’ve probably heard this about tidying up your home, but the same applies for your facility, too.
Instead of getting overwhelmed and tackling multiple shelves or units at once, start from the top of the unit and work your way toward the bottom. This way, you can avoid accidentally misplacing samples or vaccines. Obviously, you’ll need to be careful about where you put temperature-sensitive samples while reorganization is in process.
You can also take a different approach to lab refrigerator organization. Some like to tackle many organization tasks all at once. For example, if you’re defrosting a manual unit, take the time to go through the items that were in there. Dispose of any expired samples or vaccines and reorganize them if needed.
While you’re organizing, you can also reach for some cleaning products and wipe down the unit’s shelves, walls, and racks.
You should make sure your facility’s coordinator informs any incoming staff about your facility’s organization methods. According to the CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit, it’s the coordinator’s responsibility to organize and rotate stocked items.
We hope you found our tips helpful. By properly organizing your units, your facility can save time and money while offering patients the potent vaccines they need. Leaving the unit door open for even just a few minutes can put medical materials at risk for spoiling, so make sure your facility’s workers know where to find everything.
An organized facility begins with the right units. The CDC suggests using purpose-built or stand-alone units. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure your units provide optimal room and meet your facility’s temperature requirements.
K2 Scientific is a widely recognized provider of premium medical grade refrigerators and freezers for hospitals, pharmacies, and laboratories. We build our units to the highest quality standards. Every unit we offer is CDC- and VFC-compliant, and we also include a 2-year, no-hassle warranty with each unit. Plus, should your facility require a replacement, we’ll send one within 24-48 hours.
To learn more about our cold storage solutions, contact us today.