Long-awaited reforms to treating practitioner mandatory reporting are expected to begin over the next couple of months in all States and Territories except Western Australia.¹

Treating practitioners (including doctors, psychologists and other registered health practitioners) will only be required to make a mandatory report about their practitioner-patient (which includes doctors and all other registered health practitioners) in the following circumstances:

  • Impairment (a physical or mental health condition detrimentally affecting practice or likely to do so) if there is a substantial risk of harm to the public, considering:
    — Its nature, extent and severity
    — Practitioner-patient’s willingness to take steps to manage it
    — Extent to which it can be managed with appropriate treatment
    — Any other relevant matters going to risk of harm
  • Intoxication (practising under the influence of alcohol or drugs) if there is a substantial risk of harm to the public, considering: 
    — Its extent and duration
    — Practice context
    — Whether it was an isolated incident or a pattern of behaviour
    — Extent of practitioner-patient’s self-reflection
  • Significant departures from accepted professional practice – if there is a substantial risk of harm to the public, considering: 
    — Practice context
    — Treating practitioner’s ability to judge the extent of departure
    — Actions underway to deal with any gaps in practice
    — Extent of practitioner-patient’s self-reflection
  • Sexual misconduct² – engaged in or at risk of engaging in sexual misconduct in connection with practice.

Our work on this issue is part of our broader focus on doctors’ health.  We have made multiple submissions to Governments and Parliaments, appeared at Parliamentary inquiries, presented at conferences³ and had numerous meetings with regulators and key stakeholders.

Our recent focus has been on assisting the revision of mandatory reporting guidelines and new education materials.  AHPRA’s new ‘mandatory reporting hub’, something we sought, is now available and can be accessed at www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications/mandatorynotifications.aspx.4

We hope these reforms will be an important step in our ongoing work to ensure doctors and other health practitioners:

  • Can seek the help they need without fear of an unnecessary mandatory report
  • Realise they can continue to practise if their health conditions are under control and well-managed
  • Have a much clearer understanding of mandatory reporting obligations when treating colleagues.

¹Western Australia will continue to have an exception to its treating practitioners making mandatory reports about their practitioner-patients.
² ‘What constitutes ‘sexual misconduct’ is set out in the Medical Board’s Sexual boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship – available at www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Policies/Sexual-boundaries-guidelines.aspx.
³MIGA recently presented on these reforms at the bi-annual Australasian Doctors’ Health Conference – the presentation materials, providing more information about the reforms, are available at ruralhealthwest.eventsair.com/2019-adhc/conference-presentations.
4The mandatory reporting hub, including guidelines and case studies, can be accessed at www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications/mandatorynotifications.aspx.

Other resources

  1. Medical Board Guidelines

    View the Medical Board’s Guidelines Sexual boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship.

  2. MIGA’s Australasian Doctors’ Health Conference presentation

    View the presentation and more information about the reforms.

  3. Additional information from AHPRA

    Visit AHPRA’s webpage “Mandatory notifications: What you need to know”

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