The medical research sector is one of the essential foundations of a flourishing and healthy society. It requires a foolproof system to safely store drugs and vaccines to prevent the slightest possibility of a loss of potency. Due to exposure to incorrect temperature ranges, sensitive medical assets lose their efficacy and become worthless. It, therefore, becomes necessary to come up with prompt planning to sustain its logistical components, assets, and settings and prevent them from turning ineffective.
Since most medical and pharmaceutical assets require specific environmental conditions, fridges and freezers serve as a primary need for the sector. However, keeping up with the management and maintenance of temperature in these devices is one complicated task. With devices like data loggers, the task is getting simplified, but many more aspects require prompt planning.
Cold chain maintenance
Maintaining the entire cold chain process is essential in any healthcare and medical research facility. With temperature-dependent materials, this requirement becomes even more critical.
Three significant components to maintaining a functional cold chain include the following:
- Well-trained personnel
- Accurate inventory management
- Appropriate temperature monitoring equipment
The last one, i.e., temperature monitoring, holds the most significant position due to its extensive effect on susceptible medical products. The temperature of medical products like vaccines significantly affects their lifespan and effectiveness.
Controlling the pharmacy room temperature range is possible, but with medical elements in their research, development, and manufacturing stage, specific temperature standards need particular requirements.
Components like vaccines tend to lose potency when they enter an environment outside their correct temperature range. One such typical example is that of Covid-19 vaccines across different regions of the globe that lost their efficacy after poor storage and shipping conditions. While the world relied on them to build a robust immune system, bad management and poor temperature control led to massive losses, and patients had to wait longer for their vaccinations.
A sound temperature monitoring system can avoid impending variances. The main requirement is to offer the proper temperature range for the products.
Is there a universally accepted temperature range?
No! Biologics and vaccines have no universally accepted temperature because each product has different compositions and requirements. For example, some pharmaceutical items might need to be frozen, while other biologics demand specific cooling temperatures. Therefore, requiring different arrangements to match each of their requirements.
Medical research devices for monitoring freezer and fridge temperatures
Some of the most important methods of monitoring freezer and refrigerator temperatures for medical research are:
Thermometers are the most straightforward technique to monitor the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. They typically require a technician or team member to service each fridge or freezer at least twice a day and record readings from a thermometer that monitors the internal temperature. Measured values are manually recorded in a logbook and saved for record keeping.
However, many disadvantages can make this technique less suitable. If monitoring several cold stores, this task can take up to several hours each day, increasing the cost of operation. Additionally, this method is most vulnerable to human error.
From payment system outages in the market to miscalculations in research, human error can cause significant chaos. In addition, manual records have a lower level of reliability than other types due to quick manipulation in the event of regulatory or liability actions.
For the continuous recording of refrigerator and freezer temperatures, chart recorders are a reliable, relatively inexpensive, and straightforward method used for decades. In addition, graphs can be saved and archived to create a thorough temperature record. Because of these advantages, chart recorders have become the standard method for cold storage monitoring.
However, despite their reliability and simplicity, chart recorders still require an employee to change the chart paper, usually once a day or once a week, and to store it safely to keep it in line. Storing used charts can also become a problem as they accumulate over time. For example, FDA requirements state that vaccine manufacturers must keep records of freezer temperatures for three years, equating to over 1,000 charts per freezer that must be saved and stored.
Data loggers are devices that measure and store measured temperature values electronically. They continuously monitor freezer/refrigerator temperatures and can alert when temperatures are out of specification. The data stored by the logger can usually be downloaded and stored using a USB memory device or connected to a local network.
Data loggers are more expensive than handheld thermometers but offer the benefits of continuous monitoring and data storage. Moreover, medical research is no business if you can start with less capital; it is a vast space that requires time and investment to yield optimum results.
IoT wireless monitoring and alarms
Wireless IoT monitoring is easy to set up without cables or connections. Each element runs on battery power and can be connected directly to the internet and a bespoke data portal in the cloud. The portal allows users to monitor medications, storage and equipment, and patients in real time and receives instant emails or SMS alerts for out-of-spec temperatures.
This method bypasses the risk of human error, can store data for a long time, continuously monitors the device, and immediately warns the user when out-of-spec conditions are detected. In addition, data is stored securely in the cloud and is easily accessible for regulatory requirements.
How do advanced temperature monitoring devices help?
Strict adherence to various environmental conditions can be challenging for health professionals and staff. Monitoring samples and vaccines using recording and data recording devices such as data loggers can provide real-time data on the temperature of drugs and vaccines.
These devices record the minimum and maximum temperature for the components inside the refrigeration units. They keep records at the beginning and end of each day. These devices come with battery backup and data storage facilities to simplify the record-keeping process for the user. In addition, the data becomes easily accessed on remote devices for research and other purposes.
From lab-grown blood to cures for chronic diseases, medical research is an essential space contributing to the health of society at large. Therefore, it is vital to cater to all its needs and use the best facilities to assist the area in achieving its maximum potential. These temperature monitoring equipment are readily available, and companies get to customize it to suit their needs. In addition, as noted by the CDC, data loggers and other monitoring devices serve as insurance for sensitive medical assets and protect vaccines and samples.
Monitoring freezer and refrigerator temperatures are essential in medical research. Technology is advancing rapidly to make this process efficient and accurate to avoid mishaps and waste.