Automatic temperature monitoring in hospitals

HLP Controls Pty Ltd

Wednesday, 31 October, 2018

Automatic temperature monitoring in hospitals

Temperature monitoring for vaccines, blood products and food in hospitals and medical centres is vital. Safety during storage in all of these areas is key to ensuring that people are not put at risk.

Systems that don’t rely on human intervention, unless there is need to correct a problem, are the only way to proceed. There are many new products on the market which can be used to make monitoring temperatures easy and automatic. Removing the ‘human factor’ removes the likelihood of errors occurring.

When human input is required on a regular basis to monitor temperatures, invariably pieces of paper on which the temperatures are written are lost, personnel forget to check the temperature or don’t have time and then they often ‘make up’ a value to put on their monitoring sheet.

Refrigerators can also fail or suffer power problems out of hours allowing vaccines, blood products or food to rise in temperature, causing vaccines and blood products to become ineffective or food to become spoiled or toxic. If a fridge fails during the night, the internal temperature may rise to dangerous levels; should power then be restored and the temperature come back to correct levels by morning, personnel would not be aware of the cold chain breach.

Often it is the most vulnerable people in our community who suffer as a result, being already ill in hospital, aged and relying on meals being prepared for them, or requiring a vaccine to cure or prevent an illness. When vaccines are found not to be effective, people, including children, have to be recalled to be re-vaccinated. When food is found to be toxic, it is generally established when people present as ill to doctors or emergency departments, or, even worse, people may die from food poisoning.

It is essential to store vaccines and blood products as well as food in the correct temperatures to maintain their effectiveness and their safety for use.

The automatic temperature monitoring systems available can be wireless, WiFi-enabled and simple to install. Many systems will email, voice call and SMS a temperature alert to a list of contacts. If the alert is not arrested (ie, the refrigerator does not come back to the correct temperature within a specified time period), it will escalate the alert to other contacts that have been programmed into the memory. Most units these days will log the temperatures to ‘the cloud’ allowing people with security access to check temperatures from anywhere they have internet, download history reports immediately for auditors and change refrigerator temperature setpoints when needed. Battery back-up also ensures that power failure does not impede the logging and alert functions.

The flexibility available with these newer systems is endless and, most importantly, it removes the need for personnel to do daily monitoring activities, removing the likelihood of a cold chain breach being missed and freeing personnel to be able to concentrate on their normal daily tasks.

Safety during storage is vital to ensure the safety of vaccines, blood products and food.

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