“We want to ensure practitioners with health issues feel safe to seek treatment without fear of an unnecessary mandatory notification,” says AHPRA
Amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) requirements on mandatory notifications came into effect on 1 March 2020.
The changes apply in all states and territories except Western Australia and affect the mandatory reporting obligations for treating practitioners (registered health practitioners who treat other health practitioners as patients).
The threshold for treating practitioners reporting a concern about impairment, intoxication and practice outside of professional standards has been raised to when there is a substantial risk of harm to the public.
However all concerns about sexual misconduct (past, present or future) must be reported.
The following table shows the types of concerns that need to be reported, and the different reporting thresholds for different groups:
(see full guidelines for more information)
“Mandatory notifications are an important part of patient safety. We need to know when patients may be at substantial risk of harm from a registered health practitioner so that we can take action to protect the public,” said AHPRA CEO Mr Martin Fletcher.
“We also want to ensure that practitioners with health issues feel safe to seek treatment without fear of an unnecessary mandatory notification being made about them. If a practitioner has a health issue, that, on its own, is not grounds for a mandatory notification,” he added.
“Substantial risk of harm to the public is a very high threshold and is not common,” he said.
The proportion of mandatory notifications made to National Boards and AHPRA is small.
Data from 2018/19 shows that out of a total of 15,858 notifications made across Australia, only 11% were mandatory notifications.
Less than 3% of notifications were concerns about an impaired practitioner.
The remainder of the mandatory notifications related to other notifiable conduct such as intoxication, sexual misconduct or substandard practice.
To help explain the requirements and raise awareness, AHPRA has released a range of information materials to both ensure patient safety and support practitioner wellbeing.
See some case studies here.