New practices and efficient technology can replace cumbersome logging procedures
There are a number of ways to ensure proper storage temperatures in vaccine storage facilities, hospitals and blood banks. One particular method involves the use of manual logs that employees monitor. Although this satisfies CDC requirements at the minimum, this method can be cumbersome and inefficient. The CDC also recommends maintaining these log storage reports for up to three years. In of itself, this paper trail can be nearly impossible to maintain. If your paper logs have a single use (one per day), then the CDC requirement requires 1,095 of such daily logs. If each log is for a 7-day period, then 156 logs must be stored and filed correctly on a rolling basis. Needless to say, that’s a lot of paper to maintain!
Check out this 4-point list of problems that can surface with manual paper logging and consider upgrading to an automated system for consistency and peace of mind:
1. Time: Even if temperature readings are recorded by a temp or intern, keep in mind that the constant recording (particularly with many spots to log) can take significant time away from the employee's primary duties. In larger facilities, the time to manually record temperatures from 10+ refrigerators and freezers can quickly add up. Time is valuable!
2. Massaged or Imprecise Data: This is a larger "trust" issue if data has been altered or misused, but overall, the possibility of altered data exists with a paper log. Employees can (knowingly or by mistake) record false temperature readings that may indicate a failure or possible temperature excursion. There is no excuse for an employee that fails to indicate potential changes or highlight temperature excursions, and human error is an unfortunate reality with this type of manual process.
3. Lost reports: If the health department requires you to produce temperature readings that span back a few months (or to a randomized date), paper logs create a variety of issues if organization is poor. Daily logs (365 in a year) can be easily lost amidst a mountain of paperwork, and pinpointing exact dates can be extremely cumbersome. Owners may have to comb through a mountain of disorganized data, and the realization that the data may be "missing" can have serious consequences if the CDC requests historical data.
4. Inadequate reporting cycles: Especially with the example of twice-daily checks, temperatures may fluctuate significantly in the 12 hours between temperature recordings. Temperature readings may seem normal during the first check (in the morning), but a temporary failure (that lasts 2-3 hours) cannot be accounted for when the second recordings are taken (at night). This "dead zone" of lost readings can hold important clues for possible variations or issues, whether they're specific to the HVAC system or the actual refrigeration/freezer unit.
In the larger picture, manual logs (with firm adherence to logging procedures) are still considered an acceptable form of temperature monitoring (seen in the CDC article link above). Still, temperature monitoring technology and automated devices will likely arise as the gold standard for CDC requirements. This means that companies/distributors that have relied on manual employee checks will need to make a sizable investment in such devices. These devices are very much in the "early adoption" phase of innovation, and the step of "early/late majority" is not far off.