Protect Your Practice

Minimising the risk

As a practice manager you are responsible for minimising the risk of cross infection in your practice. You should consider every person to be a potential source of infection and all practice staff must be educated on infection prevention and control guidelines to protect themselves and others from becoming infected. Although staff members are responsible for their own wellbeing, the practice should offer them immunisation (NHMRC 2012). A record of immunisation status should be maintained and kept in staff files, and as the practice manager, you should take responsibility for monitoring vaccination requirements and immunity, and liaise with individual staff members on this.

Improve your practice

For optimum infection prevention and control, staff must adhere to the following precautions:

  • Ensure hands are washed before and after any contact with patients or contact with any body substances. Assume all blood and body substances including saliva, urine, vomitus and wound drainage etc. are potentially infectious.
  • Provide hand washing facilities for any persons using the practice e.g. patients, families, clients and visitors.
  • Take standard infection control precautions against inadvertent contact with any body substance. This must include the use of personal protective equipment – medical examination gloves, eye protection, impervious aprons or gowns and appropriate face masks.
  • Prevent transfer of any body substance between patient and patient, and practice member and patient.
  • Provide a documented cleaning program for all areas of the surgery. Clean all areas of the surgery on a routine basis. Ensure equipment and surfaces are cleaned as soon as possible after use, using appropriate chemicals in accordance with the requirements of the NHMRC (2012).
  • If using contract cleaners, ensure cleaners are aware of infection control principles, practice policies and any associated hazards.
  • Sterilise all instruments and equipment to be introduced beneath skin or mucous membrane in accordance with current Australian Standards for cleaning, disinfecting and sterilising reusable medical and surgical instruments and equipment, and maintenance of associated environments in healthcare facilities. Ensure all equipment is cleaned thoroughly before being placed into an autoclave or sterilising agent. Make sure the nominated employee/s monitor the autoclave to ensure its efficacy. This means using chemical, biological or physical indicators and/or validation processes in accordance with the requirements for current Australian Standards. Your autoclave supplier or pathology companies will assist you with this process.
  • Clean, maintain and use equipment according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • Dispose of waste in an appropriate manner that will not pose a risk to others and in accordance with local regulations and legislation.
  • Ensure waste disposal units are clearly identified for the purpose: contaminated waste, hazardous waste, recycle waste, general waste.
  • Ensure a ‘spill kit’ is available for use in the practice, that staff are aware of its location and how to use it.
  • Offer immunisation to practice members and cleaners, and document the same.

Ensure the following are in place and reviewed regularly:

  • workers compensation insurance
  • written procedures
  • appropriate and regular training for all practice members. All training should be documented.
  • appropriate cleaning equipment
  • protective equipment
  • sharps disposal bins – these may be required in toilets, depending on the type of practice
  • fire extinguishers and/or blankets
  • security alarms
  • ergonomically tested furniture
  • maintenance program for air-conditioner   
  • maintenance program for fire extinguishers  
  • signs displayed for sharps injuries (in all areas of surgery).


  • Medicare Local: AMLA - Medicare Local locations
  • your professional association or college
  • your local pathology company
  • your accreditation organisation
  • local infection control consultants
  • skin penetration guidelines from relevant state departments of health
  • Australian guidelines for prevention and control of infection in the healthcare setting (NHMRC 2012)

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  • A legal duty of care
  • Improve your practice

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.