A study by an ex head of hospital Pharmacy has revealed that out of 120 fridges used for the storage of vaccines and other susceptible substances at GP surgeries, a staggering 32% of those failed to remain within the critical temperature margins of between 2 and 8 degrees.
The independent report was commissioned by the Vaccination and Inmunisation Committee at the Victoria Hospital in Blackpool, Great Britain and was carried out by David Stead a retired Principal Pharmacist. The study, covering numerous locations in the north of England involved the installation of a Tinytag data logger in each fridge studied. The loggers which are compact and battery operated are capable of logging the data over extended periods of time, enabling researchers to monitor the basic fridge temperatures, what happens if the fridge door is left ajar and also the effects of hot weather.
It has been widely reported in the media how thousands of school children in Wales had to be re-vaccinated after discovering that the vaccine used had breached the temperature limits. Not only are there inherent public health concerns with this problem, but Vaccine Community Services find themselves regularly shouldering the cost of replacing expensive vaccines.
An Issue of Compliance
David Stead’s research shows that staff involved in the use and storage of vaccines are mostly aware of the restrictive temperature criteria, yet monitoring systems currently used are worryingly flawed.
“The data shows that a number of the fridges were clearly not working within the set temperature ranges and in some cases, fridges were actually turned off overnight, or indeed over whole weekends. There were also big variations within individual fridges, with the worst location being in the door and at the back of the bottom of the fridge.” Ian Gander from Gemini Data Loggers said, “The solution to this problem is quite simple. Installing a Tinytag data logger not only enables the temperature of fridges to be quickly, efficiently and accurately monitored, but the loggers are also fitted with flashing LED alarms which are triggered when the temperature goes out of range.”
To ensure that the alarms are not triggered by a brief opening of the fridge door, the temperature sensor is mounted inside the casing of the logger and has a time-temperature reaction which closely mimics that of both vials and box packaged doses.
The study reported that adjustments to fridge operation on the basis of data collected resulted in correct temperature controls in the majority of units tested. Tinytag can take and record up to 16,000 readings with data and graphs being stored on a PC for a permanent, traceable record. The small investment is quickly offset against wasted vaccine. The improved safety to public health is of course priceless and with more pressure being applied by Health Authorities for stronger regulation, Intab have come up with a timely answer to a problem receiving increasing focus. These tougher regulations are already impacting the cold chain process within pharmaceutical transportation, an area in which Tinytags are widely used. These regulations are now beginning to be enforced in final storage destinations such as the fridges in hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies. Perhaps a little forward thinking may be prudent and save time and money right now.