Actions to Take If Your Medical Fridge Malfunctions

For any healthcare professional, learning that a medical fridge being used to store vaccines has malfunctioned is a critical situation. 

A medical fridge malfunctioning allows vaccines to fall outside of their minimum and maximum recommended temperatures, that ensure proper potency and effectiveness. 

Not only is this detrimental to the medical products inside of the fridge, but also for the practitioners and medical practices. The cost of damaged and wasted vaccines can equate to millions of pounds, which will need to be replaced, and potentially a new medical fridge will need to be purchased too. 

In addition, there is also the added disruption to the service being offered by the medical practice, which in turn could inconvenience some patients or even put them at risk.

However, these situations can, and do, occur and it is important for medical professionals to understand how to deal with them promptly and properly.

If dealt with correctly, there is a chance that vaccines can be saved and the medical fridge can be repaired before any fault or damage becomes permanent. 

Below, we have put together a step-by-step guide for what to do if your medical fridge malfunctions at any given time.

Step One

Keep the fridge door closed while a rapid assessment of the situation is undertaken, and an action plan is formed.

Although the temperatures may have already risen or fallen, this will help to maintain the temperature of the vaccines being stored inside to save them from fluctuating more than they already have.

Step Two

Contact and inform each vaccine provider, or commissioning organisation, and their local co-ordinator through the local incident reporting scheme.

These contacts will help to inform you on your next steps and how to go about resolving your issues.

Step Three

Establish the last reliable temperature recording, the timing, and any cause of temperature fluctuation. An example of these causes could be due to loss of power, or the lock failing on the door.

This will help to identify if the cold-chain has been broken, and when it could’ve occurred to provide you with an idea of how long the vaccines have been out of their cold-chain conditions for. 

Step Four

Quarantine all vaccines and medicines affected by the malfunction separately from unaffected vaccines.

Make sure they remain in the cold-chain and continue to monitor the temperatures. Clearly label these vaccines as “Quarantined”, so they are distinguishable. 

Step Five

Record all details of the incident on the required forms and logs. Note any follow-up actions that will be taken and continue to keep a record.

If this incident needs to be discussed further in the future, you will have all of the correct evidence and data to refer back to. 

Step Six

Safely dispose of any vaccines or medicines that are deemed to have been destroyed by the incident. 

As previously mentioned, the medicine manufacturer should provide guidance on this.

Step Seven

Repair or replace your malfunctioning medical fridge. In some cases, an engineer may be able to repair the fault but if this is not possible, you may have to purchase a new one.

How to Prevent Future Faults

The best way of avoiding technical faults with your medical fridge is to ensure that it is well looked after and regularly serviced.

This includes cleaning your medical fridge by:

  • Wiping down the exterior
  • Cleaning the coils in line with manufacturer guidelines
  • Wiping down the interior once a month
  • Having a regular cleaning schedule and sticking to it

In addition to this, you should consider taking out a service plan when purchasing a medical fridge to ensure it works as it should and also to extend its lifespan.

We offer a CoolMed Preventative Maintenance Contract which includes an annual service from a fully-qualified CoolMed engineer.

What’s more, the engineers only use CoolMed parts and also provide UKAS Calibration. You can learn more about our service and repair plans here.


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.

Get in Touch

A malfunctioning medical fridge may seem like a disaster for healthcare professionals, but by following the seven steps outlined above, the negative impact can be mitigated.

In addition, by following best practice when it comes to regularly cleaning and maintaining medical fridges, the likelihood of a breakdown can be significantly reduced.

If you’d like to speak to one of our CoolMed team about our range of medical refrigerators, or about our servicing plans, contact us here