The High Cost of Kickbacks

05 Jul 2018

Amy Regan

by Ms Amy Regan

Doctor dejected at the information that he is being handed

Professional relationships and networks are an important source of referrals and work for many doctors. However, did you know that offering a “benefit” as an inducement or reward for referring or recommending a patient to a health service provider is considered “unprofessional conduct” under the National Law? Accepting such a benefit is also considered unprofessional conduct.

“Benefit” is not defined in the National Law but could include:

  • providing payments to GPs for referring their patients
  • recommending a medical device or drug to patients in exchange for an all-expenses paid trip to a conference
  • receiving discounted rent in exchange for referring patients to an on-site pathology provider
  • offering gift vouchers to patients for recommending you to their friends and family.

The consequences of a disciplinary finding of “unprofessional conduct” can be serious. Doctors face the risk of conditions being imposed on their registration, suspension or cancellation of their registration. These findings are noted on AHPRA’s Register of Practitioners which is available to the public. The doctor may also be subject to a caution or reprimand (which may be recorded on the Register) and/or receive a fine of up to $30,000.

This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters.



My Career Journey with Dr Nick Coatsworth

Dr Nick Coatsworth is an expert in health policy, public administration and a practising infectious diseases physician. He held a national role in the Australian response to COVID-19 as Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia, becoming one of the most recognised medical spokespeople during the pandemic. Nick engaged the Australian community through a variety of media platforms most notably as the spearhead of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Dr Micheal Gannon, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, sits down with Dr Nick Coatsworth to discuss Nick's medical career journey, and what insights and advice he has for junior doctors. MDA National would like to acknowledge the contributions of MDA National staff, Members, friends and colleagues in the production of the podcast and note that this work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under applicable copyright law, you may not reproduce the content of this podcast without the permission of MDA National. This podcast contains generic information only, is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, and doesn’t account for requirements of any particular individual. The content may contain opinions which are not necessarily those of MDA National. We recommend that you always contact your indemnity provider when you require specific advice in relation to your insurance policy or medico-legal matters. MDA National Members need to contact us for specific medico-legal advice on freecall 1800 011 255 or email We may also refer you to other professional services.


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