We receive this question on a regular basis here at 360 Medical and hope this information will help medical personnel understand why storing temperature sensitive vaccines, medications, products or samples is not ideal in a standard domestic refrigerator.
The two main functional issues with storing medical grade items in a domestic refrigerator are:
- Un-even temperature distribution and temperature fluctuation.
- The normal operating range of a domestic refrigerator is 0ºC to 10ºC with no fan built within the cabinet; temperatures of your product will vary from shelf to shelf due to lack of air flow.
- Opening the door, even just briefly to retrieve a product or record a temperature puts you at risk of significant temperature fluctuations. These fluctuations can vary in severity depending on the ambient room temperature and relative humidity of the location. Without a fan, your fridge will also take longer to readjust back to its set-point.
- Coil Location
- Coils on full size refrigerators are typically located behind the back cabinet wall; under counter/ bar style fridges typically have a freezer box… Having vaccines or products sitting too close to either of these locations could cause your products to freeze, resulting in the destruction of your temperature sensitive items.
The list of why not to use a domestic refrigerator for anything more than your lunch could go on for a while. Instead lets discuss the advantages of using a purpose-built medical refrigerator.
- Circulation fan is standard equipment
- This is the key to keeping temperature consistent and uniform throughout. After entry into the refrigerator the unit will pull down temperature more rapidly to your set point.
- Function dictates design
- Unlike the domestic refrigeration market, commercial medical equipment is designed to suit specific needs. This results in optimal component placement (i.e. coils), the use of higher quality materials and a longer mean time between failures.
Aside from superior mechanical design, purpose-built units also offer features not available in domestic products.
- Built-in audible and visual alarms
- For min/max temperatures, door ajar, sensor error, power failure, low battery, etc.
- 360 medical also offers remote monitoring systems so you and your staff can be alerted even when off-site!
- Key Lock
- To ensure there is no unauthorized access into your refrigerator.
- Battery Backup
- In the event of a power failure, battery backup allows your alarms and display to continue functioning and will help you identify if your products inside need to be relocated.
- Self-closing doors
- How many times have you left your fridge or freezer ajar at home? When storing expensive vaccines, medications, products or priceless samples complacency can be catastrophic.
Hopefully that clears up why it’s essential to use equipment designed for the job. While a domestic refrigerator can get cold it doesn’t do it accurately or consistently. When your business and clients rely on the availability of temperature sensitive products there should be no doubt in your mind why it’s critical to use purpose-built equipment.