Hey….Is Your Refrigerator Running?
Unlike the old prank call joke, refrigerator temperature in long term care is no laughing matter. When health inspectors check out your senior community’s kitchen, one of the first places they’ll look is at your refrigerators. Are they keeping food at the proper temperature? This is important because food-borne illnesses are surprisingly common and can be very serious, especially among the more vulnerable populations. According to Federal government estimates, “Each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.”
Good refrigeration is easy to get right by using RCare’s advanced temperature sensors to monitor temperatures inside refrigerators.
It’s a critical responsibility to ensure that all dining facility refrigerators are within the proper cooling range. However, many times residents have refrigerators in private apartments too, which need to be consistently monitored as well.
But food safety isn’t the only reason refrigerator temps needs to be monitored. Perhaps equally important are the medications and vaccines which require refrigeration, including insulin for controlling diabetes, some rheumatoid arthritis medications, some common antibiotics, and many more. For these medications, temperature stability is critical, and even small temperature fluctuations can render them ineffective, or even dangerous.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, refrigerator temperatures that drop even 5 degrees can freeze medications and vaccines, rendering them totally ineffective. The CDC also warns that temperatures varying the other direction, and are too warm, can melt some meds, and can cause others to become useless. While medications can cause harm by being made ineffective, what’s potentially even worse is that they can cause an adverse event in the resident.
The solution is to make sure that you know the temperature in your refrigerator at all times, and that you get alerted if the temperature spikes or falls. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using a thermometer to check the refrigerator temperature frequently, but in a facility with dozens or hundreds of refrigerators, this is a process that clearly needs to be automated. What’s more, according to CDC guidelines, it’s important to test at different times of day, at different times during the refrigerator cooling cycle, during different seasons and weather conditions, and during different user activity patterns, to ensure that the refrigerators are always maintaining a safe, stable temperature. And it’s important to be able to refer back to a log, to verify that over time the temperature has remained at a safe level.
RCare offers the ideal solution, a digital refrigerator thermometer that is integrated right into the facility’s nurse call system. Temperatures are monitored continuously, and logged, so you can check the history of any refrigerator. Should the temperature veer outside of the safe range, caregivers receive a discreet alert, letting them know immediately when there is a problem. This means that food and medications can be moved to safer storage right away.
Whether it’s food or medicine, you can’t count on knowing whether they’re safe just by how they look. “Some medications may visibly show a compromised medication through cloudiness and/or clumping. However, other medications may not show any signs of alteration, thereby leaving the impression the medications are fine.”
With RCare monitoring your refrigerator temperatures, you can be confident that your refrigerators are running exactly as they should be. And if they’re not, RCare will let you know. Your residents count on you for their health and safety. RCare can help.