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Standards for health services in Australian prisons

Criterion 5.3.1 Medicines

Our health service ensures that all medicines (including Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines) are stored securely and are only accessed by authorised personnel.


A. Our health service ensures that all our medicines are securely stored (direct observation).

B. The acquisition, storage, use, transfer and disposal of Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines within our health service are appropriately documented (document review).


All sensible security measures need to be taken to prevent unauthorised access to medicines. Due to the health service being located within a prison, health service staff need to ensure they have a particularly robust system for storing and dispensing medicines, making certain no unauthorised access occurs.

Enhanced security measures such as rigorous record keeping or an additional locked cabinet may be needed for equipment associated with the administration of medicines (eg. needles or tourniquets).

Health services need to be familiar with their state or territory legislation regarding the storage of Schedule 8 medicines. State and territory legislation generally requires that Schedule 8 medicines be stored in a locked cabinet or safe that is fixed to an immovable structure.

The use of Schedule 8 medicines must be correctly recorded in accordance with state and territory legislation, and appropriate documentation is needed in relation to:

  • the date of administration
  • details of patient
  • quantity of medicines coming in
  • quantity of medicines going out
  • quantity of medicines still held
  • comments about conditions prevailing (eg. breakages)
  • the signature of the person/people entering the data and administering the medicine.

Some states and territories also have specific legislation relating to the storage, use and disposal of Schedule 4 medicines and health services need to be familiar with these requirements as well.

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