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Standards for health services in Australian prisons

Criterion 5.2.2 Doctor's bag/emergency trolley

Our health service ensures that our medical and other clinical staff have access to a doctor’s bag or an emergency trolley.


A. Our health service has an accessible doctor’s bag or emergency trolley (interview, direct observation).

B. When in use, our doctor’s bag or emergency trolley contains (direct observation):

  • auriscope
  • disposable gloves
  • equipment for maintaining an airway in adults
  • health service stationery (including prescription pads and letterhead)
  • in date medicines for medical emergencies
  • ophthalmoscope
  • sharps container
  • sphygmomanometer
  • stethoscope
  • syringes and needles in a range of sizes
  • thermometer
  • tongue depressors
  • torch.


All GPs in the practice require ready access to an emergency trolley or a doctor’s bag. Bags should always contain core equipment, medications and stationery so when they are required the GP can simply add equipment in regular use (eg. auriscope, ophthalmoscope or stethoscope) to make the bag ready for use. The health service is not required to maintain two separate sets of equipment, but rather the necessary items can be placed in the doctor’s bag or on the emergency trolley when attending a consultation in a patient’s living quarters or an emergency as the case may be.

More than one health professional in the health service can share the use of a doctor’s bag or emergency trolley. Large health services need to consider whether more than one doctor’s bag or emergency trolley is needed to ensure that doctors and other health professionals have ready access to essential equipment when required. This is particularly important when a prison has more than one health service in different locations within the facility.

Health services need to consider what medicines they keep in their doctor’s bag or emergency trolley. Consideration needs to be given to the health service location, the type of clinical conditions likely to be encountered in the prison, the expiry date and climatic vulnerability of medicines, and the cost and size of the doctor’s bag or emergency trolley.59

Doctors’ bags and emergency trolleys must be kept secure in accordance with state and territory legislation.

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