The Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority (2013) states:
“All registered health practitioners have a professional and ethical obligation to protect and promote public health and safe healthcare. Under the National Law, health practitioners, employers and education providers also have some mandatory reporting responsibilities.
The National Law requires practitioners to advise AHPRA or a National Board of ‘notifiable conduct’ by another practitioner or, in the case of a student who is undertaking clinical training, an impairment that may place the public at substantial risk of harm.
The threshold to require mandatory reporting is high. Registered health practitioners and employers have a legal obligation to make a mandatory notification if they have formed a reasonable belief that a health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct in relation to the practice of their profession.
‘Reasonable belief’ is a term commonly used in legislation, including in criminal, consumer and administrative law. While it is not defined in the National Law, in general, a reasonable belief is a belief based on reasonable grounds.
Notifiable conduct by registered health practitioners is defined as:
- practising while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
- sexual misconduct in the practice of the profession
- placing the public at risk of substantial harm because of an impairment (health issue), or
- placing the public at risk because of a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
Education providers have an obligation to make a mandatory notification if they have formed a reasonable belief that a student undertaking clinical training has an impairment that may place the public at substantial risk of harm.
In WA, there is no legal requirement for treating practitioners to make mandatory notifications about patients (or clients) who are practitioners or students in one of the regulated health professions. However, all registered practitioners have a professional obligation to comply with professional and ethical standards set down by their National Board.
There are specific exceptions to the requirements for all practitioners in Australia that relate to the circumstances in which the ‘reasonable belief’ is formed, for example in the medico-legal context.
Each National Board has published guidelines on mandatory notifications for its profession, which are published on each National Board’s website.
National Boards have the power under the National Law to take action on the registration of a practitioner who does not comply with this mandatory reporting requirement. Ministers have the power to name employers that do not meet their mandatory reporting responsibilities.”
- Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (2013). Mandatory Notifications. Retrieved from: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications/Raise-a-concern/Mandatory-notifications.aspx