There are several key differences between medical-grade cold storage and other types of refrigerators and freezers. Medical-grade cold storage is designed specifically to ensure the quality of medications and vaccines, as well as patient samples, reagents and controls. The differences in how these units are designed and manufactured are significant for ensuring the highest standards of patient care. Helmer Scientific tells us more.

Helmer Scientific manufactures and distributes medical-grade cold-storage and processing equipment to help customers deliver the highest levels of patient care. With over 35 years of experience, Helmer supports clients in hospital laboratories, pharmacies, clinics and blood banks in more than 100 countries.

Helmer began by serving blood banks, where the precision and reliability of temperature control is essential for the storage of life-saving products. These same standards have been applied to the design and development of the entire product line.

Risk reduction

As risks are assessed in a clinical environment, the possibility of improper storage affecting the quality of test results or the potency of medications must be considered. These risks can be reduced with the implementation of medical-grade refrigeration.

Unlike household or commercial-grade units, medical-grade cold storage products are designed and validated specifically for stable temperatures throughout the entire storage space. They achieve the uniformity necessary to maintain tight temperature ranges by utilising powerful forced-air refrigeration systems. These systems distribute cold air throughout the space to ensure that all locations are within the appropriate temperature range. They also enable the temperature inside the refrigerator or freezer to recover quickly after the door has been opened.

Reliably maintaining the proper temperature range for stored items reduces the risk of lost or compromised products. This subsequently reduces the financial costs of having to discard products due to improper storage. The issues caused by unreliable refrigeration can also become a drain on facility resources, which these systems help to prevent.

Additional considerations

The design and manufacturing processes for cold storage equipment are also important for ensuring that medical products are stored properly to support a high level of patient care. Medical-grade refrigerators and freezers are more than just appliances: they should be considered medical devices by suppliers. This is a key difference between medical-grade and commercial-grade or household refrigerators.

Suppliers of medical-grade refrigerators should be certified to Quality Management System ISO 13485, which requires strict compliance with design control, product testing and validation, and post-market surveillance. This helps ensure that suppliers design, manufacture, and support their medical devices at a level of quality consistent with the needs of clinical applications.

Medical-grade refrigerators also offer special options such as integrated access control, which is designed to prevent unauthorised access to stored products. Access control requires the user to enter a personal identification number in order to unlock the unit, safeguarding the contents and providing reassurance that inventory is managed only by authorised users.

Assured success

As risks are assessed in a clinical setting, it is important for industry players to understand the differences between medical-grade and other types of refrigerators and freezers. The design and manufacturing processes for medical-grade products enable healthcare facilities to better manage the risk of improper storage, and the negative impact this can have on the quality of precious patient samples, valuable reagents and controls, medications, and vaccines. Protecting these products ensures their quality, and supports healthcare facilities in their efforts to provide the highest level of patient care.