Shipping time-sensitive, perishable medical materials is often a logistical challenge. Requiring priority handling and tracking en route to final destinations. From hazardous materials for research labs to critical pharmaceuticals as well as supplies for health care facilities, these medical shipments have specific packaging and label requirements to ensure they meet federal standards. The mishandling or loss of these medical shipments results in a financial loss to businesses. And possible health risks to those who depend on their timely delivery.
Mitigating Risk in Medical Shipments
Pharmaceuticals are shipped globally and carry unique packaging requirements. Including custom corrugated shipping boxes, biodegradable air pillows, absorbents, as well as United Nations-compliant hazmat shipping labels. Health facilities and pharmacies rely on accurate shipping and tracking. As do many patients receiving prescriptions directly from online pharmacies.
Temperature-controlled shipping is critical to pharmaceuticals. Making them time-sensitive to reach their destinations. As a result, proper precautions are implemented to prevent spoilage. These safety measures include packing the items in dry ice. Or refrigerant gel packs and using insulated Styrofoam coolers to keep the items temperature-controlled.
Labeling also plays a critical role in pharmaceutical shipments. Labeling formats often vary in each country or region. And present challenges to many companies as they struggle to keep pace with changing regulations. The 2013 Drug Supply Chain Security Act requires pharmaceutical companies to furnish serialization and traceability information. As a result, the technology used for data tracking has evolved to meet these standards. The introduction of two-dimensional (2D) barcode labeling and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags has forced companies to develop new systems. Or outsource labeling and tracking tasks.
Changes in types of packaging have a direct impact on the type of labeling used. The switch to plastic packaging raises concerns about label adhesive chemicals seeping through to the medications. Biotech drugs as well as sterile liquids are especially prone to this damage.
Labeling Research and Medical Lab Shipments
Research and medical lab shipment security are major priorities. Since packages contain irreplaceable specimens for examination as well as testing. Specimen losses due to inaccurate package tracking can also have potential legal implications. Since several agencies strictly regulate them. Non-compliance penalties start at $250K for individual offenses and can run as high as $500K for organizations.
Specimens classified as infectious substances are required to use package labeling identifying them as either Class A or Class B substances. These categories are dependent on exposure risks and contain the following information.
Class A Labeling
- The full name and address of the sender and recipient.
- A label that officially identifies the shipment as containing an infectious substance.
- A UN2814 (affects humans) or UN2900 (affects animals) label with net quantity.
- “Person responsible” contact who is available 24/7 that is aware of the shipment information.
- Class 9 labeling with UN1845 and net weight if dry ice is used.
- Cargo Aircraft labeling when weight is over 50 mL or 50 g.
Class B Labeling
- The full name and address of the sender and recipient.
- “Biological Substance, Category B” stated on the label.
- A UN3373 label.
- The “person responsible” information as described above.
- Class 9 label if dry ice is used.
Patient specimens carry minimal dangers. The packaging must be marked “Exempt human specimen” or “Exempt animal specimen.”
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Measures to Consider for Last-Mile Delivery
Required safety labeling of pharmaceutical as well as medical specimen packaging protects handlers from harmful exposure. However, senders should also implement the following measures to assure accurate tracking and delivery.
- Package acceptance notices and labels. Acceptance notices function as proof of delivery that the authorized recipients have signed off the packages. Senders receive a notification when packages have reached the intended parties.
- Efficient workflows for shipping and receiving.The shipment of medical specimens and pharmaceuticals requires streamlined workflow solutions. Procedures that keep the process well-organized at both ends ensure policy adherence to avoid costly handling errors.
- Tracking status with photo capture.Proof of delivery is critical for time-sensitive medical shipments. The photo captures taken at the point of delivery or service function as the best documentation for delivery. Additionally, photos reflect the condition of the packaging at delivery.
- Additional safeguards for accountability.Pharmaceuticals have values in the thousands of dollars. As a result, any disconnects in shipping or receiving can result in significant revenue losses. Medical specimen packages that fail to reach their intended destination can result in delays in critical patient care. Subscribing to additional services that protect against delivery failure is a feasible way to provide extra protection as well as accountability.
Third-Party Solutions for Medical Receiving Efficiency
Third-party label and tracking systems are often used to ensure that sensitive pharmaceuticals, as well as lab shipments, are delivered on a timely basis. These third-party companies provide solutions that integrate with carriers. And provide a host of features to monitor critical deliveries.
Notifii Track uses cloud-based software that provides management for time-sensitive medical shipments. Essential features such as an OCR tool and photo capture for package tracking closely monitors the status of deliveries. Other valuable features include the following:
- Searchable history and reportsThe history and reports feature is a centralized location used for measuring delivery efficiency. Other analytics are available to track and monitor delivery metrics.
- Automated notificationsNotifii Track package management software automatically transmits emails and texts describing actions taken. Such as package logging.
- Custom handling instructionsThis feature is the most useful for high-priority, hazardous, and time-sensitive deliveries. Labels detailing special handling instructions can be created to alert others who come in contact with the shipment.
Careful attention in the delivery of hazardous materials, lab specimens, and pharmaceuticals is critical. Since improperly documented and packaged items pose serious safety consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the volume of these packages. As patients send and receive lab-related items and medications. Third-party tracking and monitoring is a proven valuable asset that can help ensure there are no lapses in these critical deliveries.
Notifii’s web and cloud-based package management software assists companies in managing the last-mile delivery of time-sensitive materials. The intuitive application saves time on tracking deliveries through instant notification of package status.
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