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Refrigerator - Design Quality

What is The Joint Commission standard for specific design quality, criteria for both clinical and non-clinical use of refrigerators?

Any examples are for illustrative purposes only. 

The Joint Commission does not require specific design or quality criteria for refrigerators that organizations decide to purchase. 

It is recognized that medication or laboratory refrigerators would likely require a significantly higher level of design quality than a food refrigerator in order to maintain specific temperature ranges. Although not specifically required, refrigerators marketed by manufacturers to be medical grade typically are designed provide precise temperature control, and are constructed of more durable components (like metal construction, typically stainless steel). 

Starting with an assessment of the items and products to be stored, the organization would be able to select the most appropriate level of quality and functionality for refrigerators to ensure proper consistent temperature conditions. 

The Joint Commission concurs with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation not to store vaccines in a dormitory-style or bar-style refrigerator.  A dormitory-style refrigerator is defined as a combination refrigerator and freezer unit that is typically outfitted with one exterior door and an evaporator plate (cooling coil), which is usually located inside the freezer compartment. Performance testing revealed that this type of design results in generally unacceptable levels performance in maintaining a consistent temperature regardless of where vaccines were placed in the refrigerator 

Additional Resources:
Click here to visit the CDC website Vaccine Storage and Handling Resources
Click here for a copy of the CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit
Last updated on March 30, 2021
Manual: Home Care
Chapter: Environment of Care EC

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