Fifty years ago in many areas of production from vineyards to warehousing to cars, there was a large labour intensive component. Routine repetitive tasks were a necessary evil. To overcome this labour dependency, new ways were developed to improve accuracy efﬁciency and delivery
When it comes to care, the human touch and empathy are all important. That is highly unlikely to surrender to new technology.
However there is one area in that care process that can certainly do better.
That is the management and reliability of the food and medication fridges in that care environment. The expanding use of specialised vaccines has brought with it a better need for effective management of their cold storage.
Yet we still rely on staff to go through the daily routine to check fridge temps. But why is that so? This is routine stuff.
We recently spent time looking at how that whole process could be made more productive. To remove the element of human fallibility and the use of staff time.
We looked at the basic issues that nursing management said could be done better.
About data collection, authenticity, storage and analysis.
Is that daily temperature check always carried out consistently ?. At the same time each day?
Is it logged and checked against required limits?
What guarantee is there that the values are correctly read and entered?. Too many suspicious identical readings?
Then there are all those log books storing hundreds of readings
“But what are all these ﬁgures telling us?” It would seem not much much other than someone did take a temperature on a certain date and time. What do we do with them?
Which raises a very basic question indeed. Why are we taking these readings?
Is there a perception here that fridges are always consistent so it is only necessary to see if they have stopped working?
Because as shown below, they can be anything but consistent.
Turning to the actual contents of the fridges. We know it is vital to maintain a temperature band. If they are not kept between 2 – 8.5 deg, medicines could be irreparably damaged.
Lets consider a situation:-
A fridge contains vaccines that are kept at 3deg. A staff member accesses fridge in the early morning but does not close the door properly. How long would it take for vaccine to rise above 8deg? (Tested with a door ajar by as little as 10mm, and the fridge warmed up very quickly in a little less than an hour to over 20deg.)
But under the current system the daily check on temperatures is not done till 3.00 in the afternoon. So that incident is not logged or known about?
We probably have a fridge that has damaged contents but nobody is aware.
It was decided to run some live tests over several weeks to check the temperature proﬁles on several fridges. This was setup and every ten minutes these fridges logged what was happening inside.
What resulted was surprising but not unexpected.
This was a classic example of an incident at 3.30am and the temperature in a medication fridge going North. For up to four hours. Likely cause?. Night staff opening fridge but not closing the fridge tightly. Medication likely compromised but no-one will know.
The ofﬁcial check was done at 3.00pm. But by then the door had been closed properly and temperature was back down again.
Another medication fridge where you could see through the seal when closed. Explained why erratic temperatures being logged
A food fridge over limits. It would appear that the cooling compressor failed to restart
(ringed) after the standard period. Not noticed for over 24 hrs and temperatures not logged by staff!
Food chillers and walk in fridges can be vulnerable due to constant use.
The biggest culprit appears to be a failure to close doors properly. But with an automatic alert prompt, staff can quickly rectify that situation.
Is there technology that could improve this situation? Something that will log your temperatures for you?. Make sure they are staying within given limits?. That will alert staff nurse early? And when needed, provide a printed audit report. And no install and minimal operating costs.
There is a new IoT network technology that is perfect to meet this speciﬁc need . LORAWAN can collect information from multiple fridges. It has a range of several kilometres even through brick walls.
This is a technology that will safeguard the whole process and give you graphical feedback on how fridges are performing.
Installation is out of the box. A smart battery powered sensor is placed inside each fridge. Each one sends back temperature readings every six minutes 24/7 to a small computer in a backroom.
These readings are passed over a 3G network onto a web server in the cloud, and checked against the required upper and lower limits set for each fridge.
Any breach of limits is immediately quietly ﬂagged. That temperature is then watched to see if it continues heading North. If it continues for another 30 minutes then an immediate txt alert is sent.
Either by text to a designated staff nurse or to a Nurse Call System who will check out the fridge.
You now win with early warnings when you need to know. And the ability to go back later on and review what happened.
Above all your critical food/medication is safeguarded
+64 (0)21 491 661
Stand 22 at NZACA Conference 12 Sept Sky City