Warning follows naming and shaming of failing GP practices by regulators
Following the spot check investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which has led to the recent naming and shaming of those GP practices that are failing to meet basic standards, Lec Medical is calling for urgent checks to be carried out on GP refrigeration facilities for drugs and vaccines.
Having inspected 1,000 practices across England where concerns had already been raised about care - and set to inspect all 8,000 GP surgeries in England over the next two years - the CQC revealed that some practices were negligent in storing vaccines at unsafe temperatures, as well as keeping stocks of out-of-date drugs and vaccines.
It is crucial that valuable drugs, vaccines and potentially-dangerous substances are stored in professional medical fridges that are especially intended for the storage of drugs
Professor Steve Field, the CQC’s chief inspector of GPs, said: “We found some surgeries where there were out-of-date vaccines in the fridge which could affect many hundreds of patients in single surgeries.”
In response to this damning report, Lec Medical’s head of UK sales and marketing, Jon Usher, said: “Despite the MHRA standards being absolutely clear and every GP practice being aware that they should have in place a robust policy for the safe and secure handling of medicines, this report is very disturbing. Even the safest of drugs can become dangerous when they are not stored correctly and out-of-date vaccines will become ineffective.”
He added: “It is crucial that valuable drugs, vaccines and potentially-dangerous substances are stored in professional medical fridges that are especially intended for the storage of drugs. These appliances should also feature a digital controller that shows air and simulated load temperature readings for improved functionality and accuracy and they should be temperature mapped annually to ensure the refrigeration is functioning correctly.”
Without wishing to scaremonger, a simple check and an upgrade to a model that meets MHRA guidelines could save lives
Medical refrigerators are designed to maintain an internal temperature between +2ºC-+8ºC and they come with a variety of features to ensure they stay at the correct temperature. Good-quality medical fridges also come with a sturdy lock, while specialised drug cabinets feature a seven-lever mortice dead lock and fully comply with BS2281. A variety of alarms are also fitted, including audio and visual, but a simple open-door high-pitched alarm may be just enough to provide the necessary time to act on the problem.
Usher said: “In light of this latest report, it is vital that all GP practices urgently check their medical refrigeration equipment and if necessary, they should arrange an immediate health check. Without wishing to scaremonger, a simple check and an upgrade to a model that meets MHRA guidelines could save lives.”