The regulatory agency is midway through conducting a review on its policies and procedures in relation to safeguarding the confidentiality of notifiers
In November 2018, the AJP reported the story of an Adelaide GP who was found guilty of attempted murder of a pharmacist in October 2017.
During our coverage of the story, readers shared their concerns about the safety of notifiers, asking why pharmacists were not protected when reporting prescribers.
Not long after the story broke, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) asked the independent National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner Ms Richelle McCausland to work with them to review its policies and procedures in relation to safeguarding the confidentiality of notifiers “and any additional steps we may need to take”.
This review began in January.
The first stage of the review involved gathering and reviewing information from AHPRA, including relevant policies and process documents, sample of files involving anonymous or confidential notifications, data on complaints stemming from anonymous or confidential notifications; and, interviewing AHPRA staff.
The second stage of the review is now underway, AHPRA confirms.
This involves Ms McCausland meeting with relevant stakeholders, including:
- other regulatory bodies within the National Scheme
- professional indemnity insurance providers
- AHPRA’s Community Reference Group
- notifiers and practitioners who have been involved in notification processes.
The third stage of the review will be looking at other organisations both within and outside Australia who handle complaints or concerns about their experiences with anonymous or confidential complaints.
AHPRA anticipates that a report will be drafted in April/May 2019.
“AHPRA has committed to publishing the key observations from the review, any recommendations and our response to those recommendations,” a spokesperson from AHPRA told AJP.
“The information we collect in the form of notifications is invaluable to our regulatory role. We want it to be safe for people to report their concerns about individual practitioners and will continue to review our policies and processes in light of relevant findings.”