Protect Your Practice



Physical security procedures

A practice manager has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all patients and staff, with effective security procedures in place.

A safe work environment

  • Keys should be kept in a secure place out of public access and view.
  • All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure a safe, secure environment and to prevent unauthorised access to the premises and restricted areas. This includes supplying the use of locks, alarm systems and duress alarms.
  • Provide a back-to-base alarm system.
  • Duress buttons should be available at each desk for staff to alert other staff within the practice of an urgent situation threatening patient, and/or staff safety. This includes a duress alarm for each seat at reception, each consulting room desk and at least one button in the treatment room/nursing area. Ideally, there should be two duress buttons in the nursing area – with one being a remote version, to be kept on the staff member and easily accessible in the case of an emergency. Duress alarms should connect through to the alarm system, to ensure police are instantly alerted and able to respond quickly without an additional phone call.
  • Either a mobile telephone or an additional, non-powered (analogue) phone line should be available in the event of an emergency.
  • Provide security monitors (preferably digital) in the public areas of the practice. These can generally act as a deterrent, but footage may be required by the police after an emergency event such as a violent episode. The alarm system and duress buttons should be tested frequently to ensure that they are operating effectively.
  • Staff should be trained in the handling of an emergency (see Emergency procedures).
  • Any patients or visitors exhibiting challenging or disruptive behaviour should be treated with caution and management notified immediately. Where necessary, the police should be contacted and the appropriate emergency procedures followed.
  • Adopt a zero tolerance policy relating to any aggressive or violent behaviour. Notices outlining the policy should be displayed prominently in the practice.(see Zero tolerance policy)
  • Medication, prescription stationery and other official documents, including stationery with letterhead should be accessible only to authorised personnel. These should be kept out of public view and access (e.g. in a locked drawer/cupboard).
  • Only minimal amounts of cash should be held – other forms of payment should be encouraged (e.g. EFTPOS, credit card). Cash should be kept in a locked drawer. Cash should not be handled in public view and should be banked regularly.
  • A keyed safe should be kept in a discreet and locked cabinet somewhere on the premises. Only senior/leadership staff should be able to access the safe, which ideally has a mail box-type slot for any daily takings to be inserted.
  • If there are a number of staff on duty, cash taking and balance records should be kept daily to ensure the integrity of banking system.
  • All confidential staff/contractor records should be kept in a locked, secure place only accessible by management staff.
  • Lockers should be provided for staff for secure storage of their possessions during working hours.
  • All medications, including samples should be kept in a locked cupboard and only accessed by authorised personnel. Any drug samples provided to patients should be documented in their medical record.
  • Drugs of dependence must be kept in a separate locked safe, which is attached to a fixed object (e.g. a wall). All use of drugs of dependence is to be documented and recorded appropriately as per standards and regulations.
  • Computer security measures must be implemented. (RACGP 4th Edition Standards Occupational Health and Safety)

Next page

Data security procedures and policies
  • Systems and data
  • Procedures and policies
  • Practice computer and information security manual

This publication is proudly brought to you by Avant Mutual Group. The content was authored by Brett McPherson, reviewed by Colleen Sullivan and Avant Mutual Group.

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2014.

IMPORTANT: Professional indemnity insurance products and Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Policy are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and PDS, which is available at or by contacting us on 1800 128 268. Practices need to consider other forms of insurance including directors’ and officers’ liability, public and products liability, property and business interruption insurance, and workers compensation and you should contact your insurance broker for more information. Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Any advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the product is appropriate for you before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us.