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Protecting medicines through automated temperature monitoring

Keeping medicines at the right temperature is crucial for patient safety, efficiency and avoiding waste. This is obviously critical across a hospital, particularly with increasing numbers of cases where processes haven’t been adequately followed during inspections. It is also a great concern as in most of the cases, these medicines represent a significant amount of investment in stock.

While all hospitals have procedures for the management of medicines, ensuring compliance can be difficult due to the time-consuming methods used to measure and record temperatures in fridges and medicine rooms. Nurses often have to check temperatures manually, taking time away from caring for patients and meaning that checks can be missed if an emergency occurs on a busy day. There is also no way to measure how temperatures fluctuated between checks or to view trends over time.

Some hospitals fit wired min/max probes to fridges that sound an alarm if temperatures rise, but they can be overly sensitive, leading to alarms going off even if a fridge door is opened to retrieve medicines. Dealing with false alarms adds to the workload of nurses and pharmacy staff, again taking time away from other duties.

The good news for Hospitals is that Checkit’s new generation of cloud based intelligent sensors can automatically monitor medicine temperature conditions in real-time. Placed within fridges and medicine rooms they can be intelligently configured to prevent false alarms and send alerts if temperatures rise above set parameters. Rather than simply sounding audible alarms, relevant staff receives text or email alerts on any internet enabled device, with managers having full visibility of what happened and recording the response to the incident. As monitoring is constant, there is an unbroken record of how temperatures have changed over time, which can be easily accessed and shared in case of an audit, for example.

When it comes to protecting medicines at Hospitals, real-time automated monitoring delivers benefits in six key areas:

1. Minimizes false alarms: Sensors can be configured flexibly to incorporate the normal operations of the Hospital. For example, rather than simply setting off an alarm when a fridge door is opened and temperatures rise, the sensor can be set to wait for 15 minutes to allow the environment to settle – if temperatures are then still too high an alarm will sound. Many Hospitals receive deliveries from the central hospital pharmacy at set times – sensors can take this into account, and expect doors to be open, and temperatures high, at certain times of the day.

2. Clear responsibilities defined: Who is responsible for responding to alarms and alerts can be a grey area in practice. Cloud based automating monitoring provides full visibility of what is happening, and all the departments involved, such as nursing or pharmacy staff are clear about their duties, and who responds to alarms and alerts.

3. Medicine waste reduced: Hospitals hold thousands of dollars worth of medicines. Often these are kept in unmanned medicine rooms, meaning that any alarms will not be heard by staff, and valuable medicines and supplies rendered useless due to temperature changes. By also alerting staff electronically, whether they are on or off site, any issues can be investigated and dealt with before medicines are spoiled.

4. Maximize process efficiency: If nurses or pharmacy staff are manually taking temperature readings or responding to constant alarms, they can’t be focusing on their main duties. By automating monitoring, their valuable time can be better spent, increasing efficiency and thus reducing the costs of medicine protection.

5. Ensure patient safety: Obviously the main driver behind temperature monitoring is to safeguard the efficacy of medicines and therefore ensure that patients benefit from their treatments. As automated monitoring takes temperatures on a constant basis any issues can be spotted immediately, allowing staff to react quickly and ensure medicines are safe and effective for patients.

6. Drive compliance and make reporting easier: The medicine management processes and checks, as part of its inspections, look for reassurance that procedures are being followed. By using automated monitoring hospitals have a complete, verified, digital record of how medicines have been stored and how issues have been dealt with. This is easy to share, and makes demonstrating compliance simple and straightforward.

Given the importance of medicines temperature monitoring, and the issues with manual and wired methods, it is time for all hospitals to look at the benefits that digital, automated monitoring can bring to their operations.

To find out how Checkit can help please request a contact and our team will be pleased to provide you more information

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