A specialist medical refrigeration unit is the most important piece of equipment in any medical practice. In this guide, we will explain why you need a medical fridge in your healthcare practice and provide the necessary information to help you choose the best unit for your needs.
What is a Medical Fridge?
A medical fridge is a specially designed piece of equipment for the storage of vaccines and medications. Unlike standard commercial fridges where their internal temperature can fluctuate easily, medications need to be kept in the cold-chain. Due to their temperature controlling features medical fridges are favourable over commercial fridges to achieve this.
Medical refrigerators are vital pieces of equipment for any healthcare or medical practice. This includes hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies, as well as dentists, private healthcare facilities and even veterinary practices too.
What is the Cold Chain
The cold-chain refers to the specific temperature range vaccines and medicines must remain in to stay potent and effective. This temperature ranges from +2oC – +8oC.
If the cold-chain is broken at any point and medication falls out of this range for a prolonged amount of time, they can become damaged and unsafe.
Because of this, it is essential that medicines remain in the cold-chain from the point of manufacture through to the point of use. This includes while they are being transported from the production line to the medical practice, and then whilst in storage.
While in transportation, medicines are usually stored in specialist refrigerated containers and driven in refrigerated vehicles. Once they arrive at a medical practice, they must then be transferred to, and kept in, a medical refrigeration unit.
Why Do I Need a Medical Fridge?
Without having a dedicated medical fridge, practitioners are not able to correctly store vaccines in the cold-chain, which in turn means they cannot be administered to patients safely. As a result, this can negatively impact patient care and can also cost large sums of money if medicines are damaged, ruined or even stolen.
As well as accurate temperature control, all medical fridges are designed with state-of-the-art thermometers and trigger alarms. The thermometers are designed for healthcare professionals to give them the most precise temperature readings throughout the day.
Additionally, if the internal temperature of your medical fridge falls out of the cold-chain, its alarms will trigger and allow you to asses when medications have fallen out of the cold-chain so you can look to resolve any issues.
Where you might be storing highly sought after medications, medical fridges are also installed with locking systems to prevent any break ins and thefts. Although your healthcare practice should be secure, these locking systems help to create a second line of defence against any possible intruders.
How Should I Store Vaccines in a Medical Refrigerator?
When investing in a medical refrigerator, it is important to know how to store your vaccines properly and safely to ensure that they remain in the cold-chain.
Make sure your vaccine vials are spaced evenly apart, approximately 1cm, and are not placed near the back of your medical fridge. Also ensure that your medical fridge is filled no more than 75% full.
Having your vaccines close together, or your medical refrigerator overfilled can impact its airflow. This can consequently have an affect on the accuracy of the medical fridge’s temperature control and can lead to some of your stock remaining in the cold-chain, but also some of it falling out too.
Similarly, storing your medications too close to the back of the medical fridge can lead to freezing risking the medications losing their potency and becoming unusable.
Finally, when stocking your medical fridge, ensure that all of your medication is kept in its original protective packaging. There are some medicines and vaccines that are sensitive to light, and their protective packaging can help to minimise their exposure to it. If you are dealing with a lot of vaccines like this, purchasing a medical fridge with a solid door could be highly beneficial.
What Medical Fridge Should I Buy?
There is a wide range of medical refrigeration available to medical practitioners, each designed to meet different needs and requirements. This ranges from small units that sit on top of countertops to freestanding units ideal for laboratories.
In some medical practices, space is at a premium. In these instances, a small medical refrigeration unit is ideal. Designed to fit into small areas, they can usually be placed on top of countertops or desks. Simply plug the fridge into the power supply and it is ready for use.
A medium-sized medical fridge will suit larger medical practices with a higher number of vaccines and medicines to store. These units are about the size of a dishwasher and – space permitting – can be installed directly under counters and tables or as a freestanding unit.
Occasionally, an engineer may need to install an under counter unit, as consideration needs to be given to power supply as well as correct ventilation of the refrigerator.
If you run a large-scale medical practice or laboratory, you will need a medical refrigerator to match your requirements. Large refrigeration units are freestanding and provide the maximum amount of storage space.
Despite their increased size, large medical fridges maintain the same level of temperature accuracy and monitoring as small fridges and, in most cases, can be installed without the need for an engineer to come out to your practice.
Medical freezers for laboratories are also included in our range too.
How to Decide Which is the Best Medical Fridge for You
There is a great deal of choice when it comes to the medical fridges available to practices and practitioners and deciding which one is the right one for you can be tough. These are the key factors you should take into account.
Identify what the fridge will be used for. Depending on your industry, you will be using the fridge to store different items. A laboratory, for example, might be storing blood while a pharmacy might be storing vaccines.
Consider the space you have in which to install your fridge as this will ultimately decide what size you need to opt for. Think about whether it will be located under a counter or on top, or whether it will be freestanding.
Glass Door vs Solid Door
Most medical fridges come with either a glass front door or a solid front door. The advantage of the former is that you can see what is inside without opening the door, while the latter provides added security.
The fridge you ultimately choose may be determined, by the budget you have to spend. Here at CoolMed, our small fridges start from £449.99 + VAT while our larger fridges start from £899.99 + VAT, without the need to pay distributor margins.
A medical fridge is a significant investment, so you want to be sure it will stand the test of time and that it comes with a guarantee. It is also worth considering paying for annual maintenance and servicing to ensure it continues to work as it should.
A final factor to take into account is the energy usage of the medical refrigerators you are considering. The most hi-tech products will have been designed to reduce usage as much as possible, without sacrificing performance.
How to Look After your Medical Refrigerator
Once you have purchased a medical refrigerator, it is important that it is properly maintained. These units are expensive and without the correct cleaning and maintenance schedules in place they can break down, sometimes beyond repair.
Some of our top tips for keeping your fridge in good working order are:
– Clean the Exterior Regularly
– Clean the Coil Regularly
– Clean the Interior
– Create a Cleaning Schedule
If you’d like to read up in more detail about how to maintain your new medical fridge, take a look at our guide to cleaning your medical fridge.
We also recommend that you have your fridge serviced once a year by a qualified engineer, to ensure that all the parts are working as they should and that any close to reaching their end of life are replaced before they break.
Our medical fridges are covered by a 5 year parts and labour warranty. You can extend this by a further 2 years for just £99. We make it a priority is to promptly replace any faulty components within this period.
Solid Door Small Refrigerator CMS29£542.39 £451.99 excl. VAT Add to cart
Glass Door Small Refrigerator CMG29£592.79 £493.99 excl. VAT Add to cart
Solid Door Small Refrigerator CMS59£693.59 £577.99 excl. VAT Add to cart
Glass Door Small Refrigerator CMG59£755.99 £629.99 excl. VAT Add to cart
Solid Door Medium Refrigerator CMS125£1,133.99 £944.99 excl. VAT Add to cart
Glass Door Medium Refrigerator CMG125£1,259.99 £1,049.99 excl. VAT Add to cart
Glass Door Large Refrigerator CMG300£1,763.99 £1,469.99 excl. VAT Add to cart
Solid Door Large Refrigerator CMS400£2,141.99 £1,784.99 excl. VAT Add to cart