A range of medicines need to be refrigerated.
These include insulins, antibiotic liquids, injections, eye drops and some creams. These medicines must be stored between 2ºC and 8ºC.
This guidance describes how you must manage medicines which need to be in the 'cold chain'.
To find out if a product needs to be stored in the fridge, check the packaging. You can also refer to the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) or visit the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC)
Dedicated medicines fridges should be of a suitable standard to keep medicines at the correct temperature.
Some fridges are advertised as ‘medicines fridges’. But they may maintain temperatures in ranges that are too low or too high.
- make sure your fridge can maintain the correct temperatures for the medicines being stored
- make sure your medicines fridges are secure and accessible only to authorised staff
- do not store food or biological samples in your medicines fridge
- to avoid accidentally interrupting the electricity supply, use a switchless socket. Or, clearly label the plug with a cautionary notice, for example: “Do not unplug/switch off”
- do not store large amounts of medicines. This can lead to inadequate air-flow and potential freezing
- regularly check the dates of the contents of your fridge. Rotate stock according to your setting's policy
- regularly clean and defrost the fridge and keep dated records of this.
- record the temperature of the fridge daily
- you should record minimum, maximum and current temperatures, using a minimum/maximum thermometer.
- the thermometer should be reset after each reading
- make sure that your staff understand how to read and reset the thermometer and why this is necessary
- take care that the thermometer probe cable does not interfere with the door seal. This could cause the temperature to fall outside the recommended temperature range
- make sure that your staff know what to do when the fridge is outside the recommended temperature range
- keep records of any actions taken. This includes seeking advice on whether the medicines are still safe to use.
Some small services do not regularly keep medicines that need refrigeration. In exceptional circumstances, such services could consider using a separate locked container in the food fridge. Only trained and competent staff should have access. Staff should keep records of temperature monitoring. This is a proportionate approach to making sure medicines are safe to use and should be fully risk assessed.