The safety of medicines and vaccines is critical in hospitals, GPs, pharmacies, care homes and throughout the supply chain. Protecting medicines and keeping stock at the right temperature is crucial for patient safety, efficiency and avoiding waste within the NHS and any medical or healthcare setting.
A recent Care Quality Commission report highlights the common areas of risk when using medicines across health and social care in England.
Ensuring compliant medicine management can be difficult due to the time-consuming effort involved in measuring and recording temperatures in ward and medicine fridges. Staff often check temperatures manually, which takes time away from patient care and increases the risk of checks being missed if emergencies occur. Neither is there any way to measure how temperatures fluctuate between checks or to view trends over time.
Some hospitals fit wired min/max probes to fridges that sound an alarm if temperatures rise above 8 degrees, but they can be overly sensitive, leading to alarms sounding 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 is that a new generation of cloud based intelligent sensors can automatically monitor medicine temperature conditions in real-time. Placed within ward, lab and medicine fridges 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 receive text or email alerts on any internet enabled device. Managers have full visibility of what happened and how the incident was handled. As monitoring happens continuously on a 24/7 basis, there is an unbroken record of how temperatures have changed over time, which can be easily accessed and shared with regulators.
Is your medicine management meeting expectations?
Are your processes and compliance procedures in place for protecting medicines?
Connected Automated Monitoring delivers six key benefits:
1. Minimises false alarms
Sensors can be configured flexibly to incorporate the normal operations of a ward. 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 still too high, an alarm will sound. Many wards receive deliveries from central hospital pharmacies at set times. Sensors can take this into account so that door openings and temperature rises at certain times do not trigger an alarm.
2. Helps define responsibility
Determining who is responsible for responding to alarms can be a grey area in practice. Cloud-based automating monitoring provides full visibility of what is happening. As a result, both nursing and pharmacy staff are clear about their duties and who should respond.
3. Reduces medicine waste
Hospitals hold thousands of pounds worth of stock . Often these supplies are kept in unmanned medicine rooms on wards, meaning alarms may not be heard by staff. Valuable stock can be rendered useless by temperature changes. By alerting staff electronically, whether they are on or off site, issues can be investigated and dealt with before the product is spoiled.
4. Maximise process efficiency
If nurses or pharmacy staff are manually taking temperature readings or responding to alarms, they can’t be focused on their main duties. Automated temperature monitoring enables time to be better spent, increasing efficiency and thus reducing the cost of medicine protection.
5. Ensure patient safety
The main driver behind temperature monitoring is to safeguard the efficacy of medicines and therefore ensure 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..
6. Drive compliance and make reporting easier
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) checks medicine management processes and records during inspections, looking for reassurance that procedures are being followed. By using Connected Automated Monitoring providers 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.