Articles and Case Studies

Mandatory reporting - what's new

25 Jun 2020

Dr Sara Bird

by Dr Sara Bird

Under the National Law, health practitioners and employers must make a mandatory notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) about the conduct of a health practitioner in circumstances where there is ‘notifiable conduct’.

What types of conduct must be reported to Ahpra?

There are four concerns that constitute ‘notifiable conduct’ and trigger a mandatory notification:
  • intoxication while practising
  • sexual misconduct
  • impairment
  • a significant departure from accepted professional standards.

 

The National Law defines an impairment as ‘a physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence) that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect the person’s capacity to practise the profession’.

 

Mandatory notifications account for 11% of the notifications received by Aphra.

 

What's new?

On 1 March 2020, the requirement for a treating practitioner to make a mandatory notification to Ahpra about a colleague changed. These changes provide different thresholds for the reporting of ‘notifiable conduct’ for treating health practitioners and non-treating practitioners.

 

The aim of these changes is to support health practitioners in seeking help about their health by limiting the circumstances that would trigger treating health practitioners to make a mandatory notification, compared to non-treating practitioners.

 

A mandatory notification by a treating practitioner in relation to impairment, intoxication or practice that significantly departs from accepted professional standards is required only when there is a substantial risk of harm to the public.

 

When considering whether a mandatory notification is required, a treating practitioner can take into account strategies put in place by the practitioner-patient and/or their employer that reduce the risk of harm to the public. While a practitioner-patient may have an impairment that causes a minor detrimental impact on their capacity to practise, it does not trigger a mandatory notification unless it poses a substantial risk of harm to patients.

 

Key messages

  • Illness ≠ impairment
  • A health condition is not the same as an impairment. An illness or condition that does not, or is not likely to, have a detrimental impact on a practitioner’s capacity to practise is not an impairment.
  • A notification to Ahpra does not need to be made if there are effective controls to manage the impairment and to reduce the risk and severity of harm to the public. This includes the provision of treatment, modified scope of practice or ceasing work.
  • In WA, treating health practitioners providing a health service to a practitioner-patient are exempt from the requirement to make a mandatory notification.
  • Seek advice and support from our Medico-legal Advisory team if you receive a notification from Ahpra.
  • If you believe you should make a mandatory notification about another health practitioner, please feel free to contact us to discuss the situation.

 

More Information

 

Ahpra and National Boards

 

Regulation and Legislation, Anaesthesia, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, General Practice, Intensive Care Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Psychiatry, Radiology, Sports Medicine, Surgery, Physician, Geriatric Medicine, Cardiology, Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery, Radiation Oncology, Paediatrics, Independent Medical Assessor - IME
 

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