Replacing Mechanical Locks with Electronic Locks on Medical Enclosures

In today’s healthcare facilities, security threats extend beyond physical building security and down to medical enclosures such as cabinets, dispensing carts and charting stations, and portable diagnostic equipment. For many healthcare facility managers, monitoring security at the enclosure or cart level can be a challenge. In response, many are looking to the manufacturers of these enclosures for solutions.

Managing mechanical keys can be complicated, inconvenient and costly. Physical keys need to be carefully managed to ensure they are in the hands of authorized personnel only. These keys must also be retrieved and reassigned when employees change shifts or are no longer employed by the institution, which can be a challenge in larger facilities. By replacing traditional key locks with electromechanical locks and latches, access to medical equipment can be easily modernized to meet changing security needs.

Electronic locks, like Southco’s R4-EM Light Duty Electronic Rotary Latch for example, allow medical equipment manufacturers to build intelligent security into their products. When used as part of an electronic access system (EAS), the electronic lock creates an electronic signature that can provide user authentication, audit trail and reporting capabilities, simplifying security administration and eliminating opportunities for physical security breaches.

Southco’s R4-EM provides a simple, versatile solution for a variety of medical applications. This compact latch is mounted inside the equipment, using minimal interior space and allowing a clean exterior appearance that protects it from vandalism. The R4-EM can be easily wired directly to a wide variety of access-control devices, such as the EA-KC2 Membrane Keypad Access Controller, the EA-R02 RF Wireless Remote Controller and the EA-P3 Proximity Reader for a complete remotely managed access system.

Electronic access solutions are ideal for medical equipment as they can provide an indisputable access audit trail for all doors and cabinets secured electronically. Each time an enclosure equipped with an electronic latch opens or closes, a signal is sent to a monitoring system to confirm and log access. Depending on the configuration, EAS reporting can provide more than just simple open/closed information – such as which credential activated the electronic lock and the time and duration of the event.


Using an electronic latch with all or part of an existing security system can be easily integrated by medical enclosure manufacturers as well as healthcare facilities considering new or replacement equipment, as it provides the operator with real-time monitoring and an audit trail of all access activity. EAS also allows access records to be viewed remotely, so monitoring personnel need not be onsite.

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