Case Study: Temperature Control in Outpatient Clinics Saudi Arabia

Samir Sawli

Samir Sawli, PhD., CEO of Health Executive Expert at presents a case scenario he encountered with outpatient clinics and their vaccine refrigeration.

Clinicians are always challenged to provide high quality care at all points of service in health care facilities. One of the outlets of care is outpatient clinics. In outpatient clinics the health care team provide many services, including patient screening, patient examination, wound dressing change and vaccinations.

At a hospital based in Saudi Arabia as an informatics team we were faced with a challenging request from nurses working at outpatient clinics.  The nurses must check the temperature of the medication refrigerators that store the vaccines, however the quality checks of temperature were interrupted during weekends and holidays where all staff are not working. During one of these weekends one of the refrigerators malfunctioned, the staff came in after a weekend to find the refrigerator was leaking water due to the refrigeration process being interrupted. The refrigerated medications were disposed.

This brought up another concern. Staff were worried about the outcomes if the refrigerator was only temporarily out of order during a weekend. More specifically, what would happen to refrigerated medications and vaccines if the temperature went lower or higher than the recommended range? The informatics team was consulted to come up with a solution for this scenario.


Upon researching similar scenarios from other hospitals we came to couple of possible solutions:

1.       Connect a smart thermometer solution which can send messages to a communication apparatus example remote monitoring system - basically a thermometer which can send short messages to mobile phones.

2.       Use a monitoring solution that reduces the need for manual temperature monitoring.  These monitors constantly automate the collection and logging of data. Reports can help identify trends and the system can transmit messages to mobile phones and pagers.

3.       Connect the refrigerator to medication dispensing systems example Omnicell, Pysxis and others.

Any of the above solutions will have implications in terms of cost, strategy, policy and workflow to hundreds of refrigerators available in the hospital.

The hospital administration must fully study and analyze which solution is best aligned with its strategy and resources.

This case study is a prime example showing that the technology is now available to support healthcare providers to maintain or improve the provision of care at highest standards. The health care providers must continuously assess any scenario which compromises health care provision to patients even if it is likely to happen in small percentage.

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