An article in the San Mateo (California) Daily Journal earlier this month discusses a $50,000 fine levied against a Kaiser Foundation hospital in San Francisco for improperly storing vaccines below freezing temperatures, potentially weakening the inoculations and tuberculosis skin test solutions for up to 3,921 patients. As a result, several patients became sick and one died.
The article cites a 2009 study by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) which found that vaccines were refrigerated at temperatures as low as minus eight degrees Celsius for a 32-month span rendering the vaccination status for nearly 4,000 patients either ineffective or unknown. According to the article, the hospital subsequently replaced the vaccine stock and installed a manual temperature monitoring system, according to its response to the CDPH.
Is a manual temperature monitoring system adequate when it comes to the effectiveness of vaccines and the safety of patients?
Often vaccines and medications are stored in refrigerators at nursing stations or various locations around a hospital or clinic, making monitoring or control challenging at best. I’ve heard stories about refrigerators left open to warm up or even people storing sodas and lunches in the same refrigerator with the pharmaceuticals.
Since cost-effective, automated systems that can monitor the temperature/condition of a product and provide automatic alerts are warnings are available on the market, it seems obvious that they should be implemented to help ensure patient safety. Relying on manual systems will likely only lead to continued health issues and unacceptable risks.
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