Medication Refrigerators – For Medication or Staff Food?

Have you ever opened your medication refrigerators and looked at what is actually in them?  Recently I was surveying an organization and went into their medication room to find a medication refrigerator with everything in it that you can think of and without a refrigerator temperature log.

As you can see in this picture, inside of a medication refrigerator in a hospitalthere was an open yogurt, a bottle of Sprite, a bottle of Milk of Magnesia, a container of juice and some injectable medication vials.  The bottom of the refrigerator was lined with a soaking wet towel as the refrigerator was not working correctly and when asked for the temperature log, there was none.  Expired medications were also present.

The other issue that was encountered here was that the medications were not secured, as the refrigerator was not locked, and the medication room door was being held open with a wooden door wedge. There was no one in or around the room.

Medication refrigerators are for just that, MEDICATIONS.  In order to maintain the integrity of the medications to be administered to patients, staff need to follow both the manufacturers' storage requirements outlined within the package insert or often appearing on the medication container and the organization's policy and procedures related to the storage of medications.  The Joint Commission Medication Management chapter has a standard, MM.03.01.01 that speaks to safe medication storage.  This same standard also addresses medication security (to prevent diversion), the removal of all expired, damaged, and/or contaminated medications, and the periodic inspection of all medication storage areas.

Please take the time to review this Medication Management Chapter and ensure that each standard and element of performance is followed to avoid being cited on your next survey.  Providing staff with a checklist to use to ensure compliance with these standards can be very helpful.

Please contact us for questions or more information at  704-573-4535 or

Courtemanche & Associates specializes in Healthcare Accreditation and Regulatory Compliance Consulting Services. With over 29 years of being in business and 100+ years of healthcare experience amongst our consulting team, we are ready to assist with your accreditation and regulatory compliance needs.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart