Heatwaves & Medical Fridges: How to Safeguard Temperature-Sensitive Medications in Hot Weather

As global temperatures continue to rise, heatwaves have become more frequent and intense. 

While hot weather can be enjoyable for many, it poses significant challenges for industries that rely on maintaining specific temperature conditions, particularly medical refrigeration.

Temperature-sensitive medications are vulnerable to heat and can quickly lose their efficacy if not stored appropriately.

The Importance of Medical Fridges in Controlling Medication Temperatures 

Many medications, vaccines, insulin, and certain antibiotics, are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. These drugs require strict storage conditions to remain effective and safe for use.

Failure to maintain the recommended temperature range (usually between +2oC and +8oC) can result in decreased potency, potential side effects, and, in extreme cases, complete loss of efficacy. This temperature range is also known as the ‘Cold Chain’.

Medical fridges play a crucial role in keeping medications cool in hot climates, and during heatwaves, due to their precise temperature control capabilities.

Here’s how to safeguard your temperature-sensitive medications during hot weather:

Monitor Ambient Temperature

During heatwaves, the ambient temperature can soar. Medication that requires storage at room temperature can generally withstand temperatures up to +25oC. Any higher than this, and these medications should be kept within a dedicated RTS cabinet

High ambient temperatures can put a strain on medical fridges too, so it’s crucial to regularly monitor the temperature inside your medical fridge to ensure it stays within the recommended range. 

CoolMed medical fridges all feature highly accurate, built-in temperature probes that monitor and stabilise drug temperatures. Our fridges also feature audio and visual alarms that sound in the event of an internal temperature fluctuation, so action can be taken immediately to safeguard stored medications.  

Optimal Placement of Medical Fridges

The placement of a medical fridge plays a vital role in maintaining their internal temperature. 

Keep your medical fridge away from direct sunlight and heat sources such as radiators, windows, and heat pumps. It’s also important to ensure there’s sufficient space around the fridge for proper ventilation as this helps the fridge’s cooling system work efficiently.

Temperature Data Logging

Maintaining a log of temperature readings is essential for identifying potential issues and ensuring compliance with medication storage regulations. 

For vaccine storage, MHRA guidelines state: “Temperatures in the refrigerator must be monitored and recorded at least once each working day, and documented on a chart for recording temperatures.” Ideally, we recommend checking temperatures twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Consider using a digital temperature data logger in conjunction with a vaccine fridge to continuously monitor and record data. These logs should be reviewed periodically to spot any irregularities and corrective actions can then be made promptly.

Regular Maintenance & Calibration

Routine maintenance of medical fridges is vital to keep them in optimal working condition. 

Schedule annual services and calibrations to ensure your fridge’s temperature control system is accurate. Preventive maintenance can help detect problems early and prevent costly breakdowns. 

As a minimum for providing adequate refrigerator conditions, MHRA guidelines state that medical facilities must employ “a maintenance contract that allows for at least yearly servicing and calibration of the temperature gauge.”

At CoolMed we offer an annual service and calibration package that’ll help keep your products and patients safe.

Implement Cooling Measures

In extreme heat conditions, additional cooling measures may be necessary to maintain the internal temperature of your medical fridge. Using portable fans or air conditioning units can help regulate the room temperature in warm storage areas, making it easier for medical fridges to work efficiently. 

Plan Medication Dispensing

Plan medication dispensing schedules to minimise the time that temperature-sensitive medications spend outside your fridge. This will also help to prevent the refrigerator door from being open for long periods of time, which would allow an excess amount of hot air to enter the internal fridge compartment.

If possible, arrange for delivery of medications closer to the time of administration to reduce exposure to higher temperatures. It’s also important to ensure medications are stored in a medical refrigerator promptly after delivery, as set out in The Green Book.

Have Reliable Suppliers On Hand

In the event of a medical fridge breakdown due to hot weather, it’s important to have reliable suppliers on hand to provide replacement products when needed.

At CoolMed we offer a next day delivery service on all our medical fridges, ensuring your medical practice will be back up and running in no time.

We also offer free fridge positioning and removal of product packaging, unlike other suppliers. 

Contact Us

If you’d like any further information on how to keep vaccines and medications safe in warm weather, please call us on 0161 772 5666, or email us at info@coolmed.co.uk. A member of our team will be happy to help.