Monitoring Temperatures to Prevent Cold Chain Breaches

The failure of a biomedical refrigerator or freezer can be catastrophic. Medication and vaccines are at risk of spoilage. The potency of pharmaceuticals—and the health and safety of patients—is also at risk if excursions in temperatures rove beyond acceptable temperature ranges.

In a cold chain breach of a pharmaceutical fridge at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, P.E.I., the fridge fluctuated between 4.4 – 15°C. The stored oncology medication was meant to be kept at temperatures between 2 – 8°C. On discovery of the malfunctioning fridge, the hospital had to dispose of a considerable amount of medication, approximately $465,000 worth. Fortunately, it was determined that no patients suffered adverse or harmful effects.

The cost and time involved to contact patients who may have been affected by a cold chain breach can be significant. On a postnatal ward in Sydney, Australia, a refrigerator that caused long-term cold chain breaches over a period of 18 months resulted in 1178 mothers and 1178 babies being affected. The mothers had to be contacted and recommended to re-vaccinate with the vaccines they had already been given on the postnatal ward.

Manual cold-storage temperature checks are one solution to the issue, but they’re not ideal. They require regular, physical checks and then the accurate recording of information in logs. It is labour intensive and puts more pressure on staff to complete a mundane, but vitally important task.

An effective preventative protocol
Digital temperature monitoring systems eliminate the need for manual surveillance of storage fridges and freezers. They relieve staff of the burden of frequent checking and recording to ensure cold storage units are functioning properly. These systems also provide a few other benefits, such as real-time surveillance and reporting.

The GuardRFID® Temperature Monitoring solution is specifically designed to enable hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities to take real-time temperature readings of cold-storage or climate-controlled units, and send an alarm if the preconfigured temperature range is breached.

The advantage of continuous surveillance over manual checks is that staff are immediately notified if there is a cold chain breach from an open refrigerator door or unit failure. Otherwise, the problem might not be noticed until the next daily manual check.

A reliable, flexible solution
The GuardRFID® Temperature Monitoring solution allows each temperature sensor to be configured independently. This way, multiple refrigerators with different required temperatures or ranges can be monitored for variances.

To guard against temperature excursions, a discrete temperature probe is installed inside a refrigerator, freezer or climate-controlled storage unit. The probe is connected with a cable to a wireless transmitter, which sends the temperature data to a Base Station and forwards the information to the AllGuard® Server.

Staff can then access and review temperature logs through the AllGuard desktop client software. To meet compliance requirements and be assured that sensitive assets are safe, staff create accurate reports using the AllGuard desktop client. Users also have the capability to set reminders to recalibrate temperature probes to meet NIST standards or other regulations.

In addition, the software offers reports on the mean kinetic temperature and any temperature variances over time. This feature aids in spotting any trends that may be occurring in processes or with equipment.

A safer, automated system
During the pandemic, COVID-19 heightened the awareness of, and need for, low-contact systems wherever possible, to reduce or eliminate transmission of disease through fomites. The GuardRFID® Temperature Monitoring solution eliminates the need for manual temperature checks, thus decreasing the likelihood of spreading infection by reducing the frequency of physical contact.

A seamless integration
The GuardRFID® Temperature Monitoring solution works in parallel with the GuardRFID Asset Tracking solution, which is used to monitor the location of important assets. The AllGuard software is also used to view the location of temperature sensors, which helps to ensure all critical refrigerators or climate-controlled units are being monitored in real-time.

To book a demo and see how the GuardRFID® Temperature Monitoring solution can provide a safer system for ensuring the integrity of cold storage units, visit

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