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IoT in Pharmacies' Refrigerators Ensures Compliance and Minimizes Patient Risk

The adoption of an Internet of Things platform can allow hospitals and pharmacies to keep patients safe and avoid fines.
By Kapil Asher
Jul 01, 2018

Pharmacies, both in retail and hospital locations, have to store for use many drugs and vaccines that must be maintained at a very specific temperature to ensure they retain effectiveness and regulatory compliance. These pharmaceuticals are often stored in small, self-contained refrigerators of varying quality, yet they maintain safe temperatures of important and valuable life-saving medications. The consequences to patient well-being, as well as the potential for regulatory fines, if they are not effectively operating can be severe.

Pharmacies are incredibly busy places and these refrigerators' doors are opened dozens of times per day by a range of personnel. Pharmacy personnel's focus on quickly and accurately filling a prescription can cause them to not notice whether the door is properly closed or if the inside temperature is at the right level.

The failure of proper storage could include degradation of prescription medication's effectiveness, which can impact patient health or possibly even cause fatalities. Not only is that contrary to their mission, but the organization might suffer financially by not receiving full insurance reimbursement for the patient's care, or the hospital may be sued or fined. Additionally, the Joint Commissions include provisions for hospitals incurring significant fines if their pharmacies are unable to provide proof that their medication storage has been in compliance with manufacturer specifications and regulatory requirements.

Aside from using small refrigerators with varying levels of quality, there are other actions that contribute to potential issues:

• Accidental mishandling, such as leaving the door ajar or unplugging from the power source
• Compressor failures due to overfilling beyond rated capacity or irregular power supply
• Maintenance falling behind the manufacturers' recommended schedule for filter replacements, cleaning or recharging refrigerant
• Inaccurate internal temperature readings

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