Use Alarms and Monitoring to Prevent Vaccine Spoilage

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines approved for emergency situation usage in the U.S. both need cold storage, and at least 2 healthcare facilities have actually reported vaccine freezer failures, including the Boston VA where an unplugged freezer spoiled 1,900 vaccine dosages.

Our nationwide push to immunize Americans for Covid-19 is highlighting a possible weak spot in the supply chain: freezers and fridges.

Who is accountable for Freezers?

Some centers rely on a handbook, once-a-day temperature level check, with the result being logged in a logbook. That works when the system is working appropriately, however if the temperature heads out of range, it could be as much as 24 hours later on before anybody notices an issue. And even then, you will have no idea how long the temperature levels have actually been out of variety.

Some medical facilities will task Biomedical Engineering with freezer upkeep, while others utilize Plant Operations. Once that duty is clearly specified and appointed, the next action is to ensure that freezers and fridges are alarmed and kept an eye on 24/7, so that someone is informed immediately ought to they fail.

Healthcare facilities saving vaccine needs to take numerous actions to mitigate and lessen human error that can trigger wasting. From an operations viewpoint, management should be asking two crucial questions: Which department is accountable for freezer/refrigerator upkeep? And what systems remain in place to notify the accountable parties in case of an outage or failure.

Conserve with Alarms

I have heard numerous customers state they can not manage alarms, however the real concern is can you afford not to have them? I once dealt with an allergic reaction clinic that lost every vial of allergy medication (valued at $150,000) due to a fridge failure. In addition to a considerable monetary loss, the failure put patients health at risk as many counted on the shots stored in the refrigerator.

In scientific laboratories, there are biological samples and reagents that require accurate temperature control. Hospitals with IVF labs require unique freezers for eggs, sperm, and embryos. The failure of any of these units would be devastating and further make the case for proper alarms and notifications.

A correct alarm and recorded failure procedures and treatments can assist prevent a breakdown from turning into a catastrophe. Fridge alarms need to be part of your Building Management System or a RTLS, Real-Time Location System.

The example above also advises me just the number of freezers and fridges there remain in healthcare facilities and their diverse uses.

Medicines and vaccines needing refrigeration are normally stored in the main Pharmacy, but smaller sized med refrigerators multiply throughout a hospital in specialty centers and on patient floorings.

Triggering Work Orders

Naturally, an alarm wont assist if its not coupled with a proactive response/escalation plan. To develop a strategy, you require to ask several what ifs and recognize what alternatives are available prior to a failure occurs.

If you have Nuvolo for Facilities and Clinical Engineering, it is possible in the majority of cases where you have an electronic alarm system to incorporate into Nuvolo. Nuvolo can develop an emergency work order and send out notices through either email, pages, or messaging to the designated engineer or service technician should an alarm be created.

Planning for Worst Case

Fortunately, the plan worked. By days end, every dosage had actually been administered and every patient was logged for follow-up injections and tracking.

If you have Nuvolo for Facilities and Clinical Engineering, it is possible in most cases where you have an electronic alarm system to incorporate into Nuvolo. Nuvolo can create an emergency work order and send out notices through either email, pages, or messaging to the appointed engineer or specialist should an alarm be generated.

Amongst other things, the strategy needs to clarify who owns maintenance of the freezer/refrigerator, and where contents can be relocated the event of an emergency situation. Sometimes, the answer might be another physical location because the freezer may be the only one on website that can preserve the needed temperature for vaccine or medication storage.

Joseph Fischel is a Nuvolo Process Consultant with 20+ years of health care centers management and clinical engineering experience. Health care IT Leaders is an Elite Nuvolo implementation partner.

I when worked with an allergy center that lost every vial of allergy medication (valued at $150,000) due to a refrigerator failure. Health centers with IVF labs need unique freezers for eggs, sperm, and embryos. The failure of any of these systems would be devastating and even more make the case for proper alarms and alerts.

Earlier this month, a California center was required to put its emergency situation plan into action when a freezer breakdown nearly destroyed 830 vials of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Dealing with a use it or lose it crisis, medical facility staff worked the phones and sent out text blasts to rapidly line up hundreds of brand-new clients for the vaccine.