December 28, 2018
A Guide to Safe Medical and Lab Refrigeration Storage
Refrigeration revolutionized modern life. However, this innovation meant much more than keeping milk and meat from spoiling. Modern refrigeration has also allowed for great changes in the medical industry.
Today, medical laboratories almost always use some kind of refrigeration. This allows for the storage of samples, as well as reagents and other tools used in medical studies. However, medical refrigerators aren’t the same as what you’d typically see in your kitchen.
Refrigeration was actually invented by a doctor. Scottish doctor William Cullen discovered that evaporation could create a mechanical refrigerator in the 1720s. But technology has come a long way since then.
Safe storage in a medical refrigerator requires a specific type of fridge that’s only used for lab purposes. These medical fridges offer more temperature stability, as well as protection against other possible issues. Keep reading to learn how to use a modern medical refrigerator as part of your safe lab practices!
What is a Medical Refrigerator?
Medical-grade refrigerators offer a lot more than the standard fridge does.
First, they maintain a more consistent temperature than a kitchen refrigerator. These consistent temperatures are important for storing sensitive things, like vaccines and samples, that won’t hold up to fluctuations.
Medical fridges also need to have alarms to alert staff to any issues. These alarms might go off if the door isn’t closed all the way, or if the temperature goes up or down unexpectedly. This allows the staff to take quick action when something goes wrong.
However, medical fridges are designed to be sturdier and less likely to fail, so these errors are rare. If a fridge goes out, the lab can face a huge replacement expense. In fact, some samples might be irreplaceable. It’s important that the fridge can hold up well to repeated use, and that they’re built with sturdy parts.
For example, if the medical fridge has both a refrigerator and a freezer, it will use two separate compressors, rather than sharing one like a kitchen fridge. It also has more delicate temperature controls and more accurate temperature readings.
Most medical fridges don’t offer shelves in the doors, the way home fridges do. The temperature in the door is hardest to control, so it’s not ideal for medical storage.
What Should Be Stored in a Medical Refrigerator?
Medical refrigerators get used to storing many different temperature-sensitive items. What you’ll need to store will depend on your lab’s needs.
This can include blood and related products like plasma. Many vaccines need to be refrigerated, as do some medicines. From tissue samples to treatment supplies, these fridges have become an essential part of modern medicine.
Types of Medical Refrigerators
You’ll need a different medical fridge for different purposes. Here are the main types on the market today.
Blood Bank Fridge
Blood bank refrigerators for blood storage need to meet certain regulations for use in different countries. They need to have different storage compartments, so the different types of blood and blood products can easily be organized.
These fridges also need to have reliable, accurate temperature controls, since small fluctuations can easily harm the supply.
Sometimes, the medical world involves volatile, flammable, or otherwise dangerous substances. An explosion-proof fridge minimizes the risk of something inside it catching fire or exploding.
These fridges actually work with no electrical parts, so no sparks can trigger a fire inside. If you’re storing anything combustible, you’ll need this type of fridge.
These medical fridges are most often used in research settings.
The lab technique chromatography involves separating the parts of a mixture. These fridges need to be extra stable and precise for these delicate research practices.
The most basic type of medical refrigerator is simply called a lab fridge. They use precise digital displays to show the temperature. They’re easy to clean, equipped with alarms and locks, and ideal for preserving or cooling down medical tools and samples.
How to Choose a Medical Refrigerator
Safe medical storage is all about choosing the right kind of fridge for your needs. In addition to choosing from the fridge types listed above, you’ll also need to consider a few other factors before you make your choice.
First, know the ideal temperature ranges for what you’ll be storing. Different samples, vaccines, and equipment requires different temperatures. The smaller the possible temperature differences, the more stable the fridge temperature control will be.
Do you know where your medical fridge will go? Placement makes a difference in which one you should choose.
Some models are freestanding, while others are designed to be built into the lab. For example, built-in styles usually need exterior fans for temperature control. However, freestanding models don’t need this feature, since they have plenty of airflow around them.
Measure your space and consider the design before choosing a medical fridge model.
One of the most important things a medical fridge does is keep track of the temperatures inside accurately.
The temperature readout needs to stay accurate at all times. The thermometer should show the temperature inside, not just the temperature that was set by staff. Make sure the thermometer is properly calibrated.
You’ll also need a data logger that’s compatible with the fridge, to record the temperature readings. That way, you won’t have to rely on staff to log the temperature.
Another important medical refrigerator consideration is the storage design. For example, if you’re storing tiny samples, you’ll need a different design than if you’re storing large containers. Organization is key, as well as uniform temperatures throughout the storage.
Get the Best Results From the Best Equipment
When it comes to using a medical refrigerator, you can’t sacrifice quality. Make sure to carefully choose the best model for your needs, and have an organized system that allows your staff to find any problems quickly.
Remote temperature monitoring is an important part of modern medical refrigeration. Find the tools you need to track temperatures from anywhere here.