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November 29, 2017

How To Properly Document Alert Notifications for Temperature Excursions

Written by Tara McNabb

We’d all like to think our refrigeration systems were always working perfectly, day and night, keeping our stocks safe for customers. The truth is that coolers and freezers can go out of range for a number of reasons, from those as simple as a defrost cycle or a door being left open to those as complicated as a fridge beginning to fail. The important part of distinguishing between the two is ensuring your team has good documentation practices.

Now that you’ve automated your process with continuous temperature monitoring to protect the integrity of your products and the safety of your customers, make sure your business is covered with correct documentation when temperature events do occur.

Using TempAlert’s Incident Manager


As a part of our Insights Dashboard, TempAlert offers an Incident Manager. Incident Manager is a great tool for keeping track of your incidents, but it’s also used to add documentation. For instance, if you have a freezer that’s caked with ice and you need to chip away at it with the door open, you can expect to see a temperature excursion and receive an alert. Documenting that excursion as routine maintenance and that you’ve secured the product in another unit prevents someone from questioning the safety of your pharmaceuticals or food.

Best Practices for Incident Comments

While you should write comments that follow your standard operating procedures, we’ve learned some best practices. For example, when writing an incident report for pharmaceuticals,  try the following:

  • Specify the action taken. List steps that were taken to ensure the medication is safe. For example, if the unit was reporting out of range for a while, the report should say that vaccine manufacturer was called and it was verified that the vaccine was safe within a certain range.
  • Document if you’ve had to call the manufacturer. Certain medications can still be viable even if they’re outside their designated temperature range. After calling the manufacturer of the medications, it’s important that it be documented what can be used and what needs to be discarded.
  • Take ownership. Insights keeps records of who documents what. If a location has a general log-in, it’s important that it be specified who took what action and when it was taken.


The comments that you add to the incident will be detailed on your compliance report. The example we’ve added here is:

Cooler door was accidentally left open causing the temp. to rise 2 degrees above our threshold for 35 minutes. Called vaccine manufacturers to verify that the medication is still viable, which it is. Temperature is back in range. – Jim Joyce”

When documenting and adding comments, remember that someone should be able to pick up where you left off. If you ever go through an audit or get a visit from the Board of Pharmacy, you’ll want everyone to be confident that your inventory has been well managed even in the event of a temperature excursion.

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