Backup of dispensing data

Secure storage of records and adequate data backup to prevent loss and corruption of these records is essential.

Pharmacies must keep a clinical record of all prescription medicines dispensed. These must be kept for 2 years for Schedule 4 medicines and 5 years for Schedule 8 medicines. Pharmacies must be able to produce these records for inspection when requested to do so by Department investigators.

Why backup

Backups are a critical component to prevent data loss in case of events such as computer failures, viruses, power failures, power spikes, fire, flood, theft, and user error. It is important to note that while application software and hardware can easily be replaced, data cannot be recovered without backups.

The Pharmacy Board also recommends protecting electronic data in the Guidelines for Dispensing of Medicines (PDF 114KB).

Backup principles

The suggested approach for robust dispensing data backup and recovery is outlined below. This may not be exhaustive and it is strongly recommended that data backup and recovery options be discussed with the relevant software provider(s).

Backup regularly

Daily backup of key data, such as dispensary system data, is recommended.

Backup to different media

Backup to a different medium. A backup is useless if it is with the computer which gets destroyed or stolen. If a removable device is used and retained onsite, ensure the device is stored in a suitable location such as a fire safe.

Offsite backups

Offsite backups are highly recommended for recovery from events such as fire, flood, and robbery or computer failure.

Automate the backup

Where possible automate the backup process to ensure backups will be completed without requiring human intervention.

Scope of backup

Ensure all required data is included in the backup.

Regularly check recovery

It is imperative to be able to recover using a backup.Running a backup does not necessarily mean it has worked and many factors can affect the success. Regularly test to ensure the data has been successfully captured and can be readily accessed and restored. This should be performed after any major changes to dispensing systems, such as application, hardware or system upgrades. Discuss recovery checking with the relevant software provider(s).

What to backup

Pharmacies should have policies and procedures to ensure backup and recovery of all essential pharmacy data in case of a computer malfunction or other event. This must encompass all records that need to be retained by law, and includes all supplies of any prescription medicine dispensed (or supplied) by the pharmacy. Recovery of data such as dispensing records, including Community Program for Opioid Pharmacotherapy (C-POP) records, electronic register records and scanned images can be a lengthy, tedious, and complex process.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883
Email: poisons@health.wa.gov.au