Medical storage – Safe Storage of Drugs and medicines

Outside of hospitals and pharmacies there are many other organisations that by design or default have the need to store controlled drugs (or CD’s) and prescription only medicines for dispense and use to patients and residents. These include care homes, residential hostels for the homeless, sheltered housing, dentists, mental health and drug rehab clinics to name but a few.

In relation to the safe storage of controlled drugs the primary piece of legislation to consider is the Misuse of Drugs (Safe Custody) Regulations 1974 although the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, the Medicines Act 1968 and the Care Standards Act 2000 and not least BS2881:1989 all need to be taken into account. Conforming to the regulations is legally binding on bodies authorised by the regulations to store and supply controlled drugs and prescription medicines.

A section of the Safe Custody regulations gives detailed requirements for the construction of drug storage cabinets, safes and medical cabinets to minimise the risk of unauthorised access and outright robbery. When choosing a storage cabinet look for the manufacturers assurance that the type and method of construction meets or exceeds the required standard under the law.

As a start CD Safes and cabinets should be made of pressed and welded steel sheet or mesh in a steel frame not less than 5mm section thickness. An effective lock is of course critical and must have
at least 5 differing levers or, in the case of a pin and tumbler mechanisms on safes, have at least 6 pins. Locks should also have at least 1000 independent key-differs. Larger cabinets must have at least two locks and espagnolette bolt door retainers . Other required features include anti jemmy door reveals and predrilled bolt down holes for fixing to wall and or floor.

You cannot comply with the regulations with makeshift compromises for example using a lockable cash box, general purpose cash safe or using a cupboard in a cupboard. Full details on the provisions required for the construction of CD safes and medical cabinets under the legislation can be found on the government website.