Proper storage of veterinary medicines
Follow these steps to ensure veterinary medical products that require refrigeration are stored correctly
Just like healthcare practices for human beings, veterinary practices store a wide range of medicines used to vaccinate and treat animal patients.
Some of these veterinary medical products (VMPs) can be stored at room temperature inside a dedicated cabinet or even on a shelf, but others must be stored inside a specialist medical fridge.
This is because some VMPs need to be stored between a very specific temperature range – usually between +2oc and +8oc – and this requires specialist equipment.
A dedicated medical fridge ensures the temperature range is maintained and monitored, with additional benefits including alarms that sound if it falls out of range and improved security.
They come in a range of different sizes – small, medium and large – with the option to choose a glass door or a solid door – glass allowing you to see inside and solid providing added security.
The size of fridge needed depends on the volume of VMPs stocked by the veterinary practice that require refrigeration as well as the space available for installation.
In some cases, space can be limited so instead of installing a large medical fridge, two small units are installed in the space that is available – often under a desk or on top of a counter.
Once a fridge has been purchased it is vital that VMPs are correctly stored within the fridge as incorrect storage can lead to medicines becoming damaged beyond the point of use.
Below, we cover the key steps to take to ensure VMPs are stored correctly.
Store VMPs in their protective packaging:
VMPs usually come in protective packaging which should be kept in place while the medicines is being stored inside the fridge.
This will help keep the medicine in the best condition possible by protecting it from any light that may find its way into the fridge – this is certainly the case if the fridge has a glass door.
It also makes it much easier for the vet administering the medicine to find it among the others being stored inside the fridge.
Store medicines in the correct position:
It is important to ensure VMPs are stored in the correct position inside the fridge. Most importantly, medicines must not touch the back wall as this can lead to freezing.
There should be at least one centimetre between medicines as this helps to keep the temperature levels accurate.
Finally, don’t overload the fridge with medicines. If you do, temperature control becomes less accurate and the chance of damage increases. Fridges should be no more than 75% full.
Only store VMPs inside the fridge:
This might sound obvious but it is a point worth reinforcing nonetheless. The only items that should be stored inside a medical fridge are VMPs.
Storing food and drink inside a medical fridge is unhygienic as medicines need to be stored in a clean environment. It can also impact temperature control so really must be avoided.
Monitor temperatures daily:
Medical fridges come with powerful thermometers as standard. Temperatures must be logged daily, ideally first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening.
Once the temperature has been recorded, the thermometer must be reset. Recordings should be logged in a dedicated book or ledger.
The responsibility of temperature monitoring should be given to one or two senior members of the team as it is a very important job.
By following the steps above, veterinary practices and practitioners can ensure the VMPs they use that require refrigeration are stored correctly.
This will ensure they do not become damaged which in turn means they are safe to administer and unnecessary expense replacing spoiled medicines is avoided.