Module 2: Basic Pharmacology of Controlled Drugs and Substances

Lesson 4

Creating a safe environment for prescribing

Healthcare providers and their clients expect to interact in a safe environment, free from the threat of emotional and physical harm. The prescribing and management of controlled drugs and substances are often associated with a higher risk of drug-seeking behaviors that can include verbal and physical threats and intimidation – even to the extreme of abuse and harm to prescribers who refuse to provide clients with the prescriptions that they seek.

There are several basic principles to consider to create a safe and healthy environment for providers and their clients:

  • The clinic setting is a workplace where safety and respect should be an expectation of everyone who uses the space. Physical and verbal threats from clients or their family members should not be tolerated. If the clinical practice does not have policies outlining these expectations, these should be developed as part of the practice team’s collaborative structure. The policy statement should then be posted in a prominent place in the office, such as at the reception desk or on the wall.
  • Individual providers should also consider their personal safety by following some basic practices:
    • Avoid being alone in clinics/offices with clients.
    • Consider structure/layout of clinic spaces:
      • Is there an alternate exit?
      • Is the waiting area separated from client care area by a partition, half wall, door, etc.?
      • Are there alarms or panic buttons in the clinic that are monitored?
      • Are there appropriate security services in the building?
      • Is there appropriate access to the office door for providers to leave the office if faced with a threat of bodily harm?
    • Consider safety when leaving the office/clinic after dark and/or alone.

By taking these basic steps, providers and their colleagues can create a safe practice environment for all.