It’s a Heat Wave- make sure you’re storing your medicines correctly!

Room Temperature Storage

For most medicines that should be stored at room temperature, this is generally understood to be not above 25 degrees Celsius. With temperatures soaring, care organisations are struggling to keep room temperatures down.

 

What Should You Do?

1. Be vigilant

Don’t just assume that because the medicines CAN survive the heat, that they WILL. When administering medicines, be sure to check carefully for any signs of deterioration. If any signs are found, contact your local pharmacist or the product’s  manufacturers for specific advice.

If you use the blister system/ MDS, the shelf life of these medicines is already 2 months as they are out of their original packaging.

 

2. Do what you can to lower the temperature

Whilst the medicines can be stored safely in higher temperatures than the ideal 25 degrees Celsius or less, staff should still do their best to reduce the temperature of rooms where medicines are stored including:

  • Using fans or air conditioning where possible
  • Removing heat-generating equipment, such as fridges, from the room
  • Shading windows from direct sunlight

Just remember, if you were storing these medicines at home in a heatwave, you would have them in as cool and dry an environment as possible as that would be your only option, so follow that same principle in your thinking when you manage medicines in your workplace.

 

3. Remember other storage issues

In the heat of the moment (excuse the pun!) worrying about the temperature, make sure you still focus on the other important factors when storing your medicines such as:

  • The expiry date (most medicines are supplied for 28 days only)
  • Storing the medicines safely and securely e.g. locked cupboard
  • The correct storage environment e.g. in the fridge if appropriate, not in the bathroom or kitchen

 

4. Don’t panic!

In the previous heatwave, the Pharmaceutical Journal has reported that the hot weather is unlikely to be a risk to medicines. The article states that ‘products that meet the international requirements must remain within their specifications after storage for six months at 40C. Products which have to be stored in a refrigerator are expected to be stable for six months at 25 C.’ (Full article here https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/pj-online-news-hot-weather-no-risk-to-medicine-stocks/20010064.article?firstPass=false)

 

Pragmatic Approach

Overall, in these hot conditions, it is important that staff take a pragmatic approach to medicines storage. It is advised that any changes to procedure are clearly documented and provided to all staff members.

 

Check out our FREE online competency assessments which can be used by managers/ senior staff to competency assess your staff on aspects of medicines handling.

 

If you feel your staff need their knowledge of storing medicines or any other aspect of medicines administration refreshing, we have Refresher Courses available as e-learning or face to face courses- CLICK HERE for more information

 

Finally- enjoy the sun!