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Health service providers

Registered health practitioner notifications

For registered health practitioners, notifications fall into three categories—mandatory, voluntary and relevant event notifications—as defined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Queensland) (the National Law).

Mandatory notifications

Health practitioners, employers and educators must notify the Health Ombudsman as soon as practicable if they reasonably believe a:

  • registered health practitioner has demonstrated ‘notifiable conduct’, OR
  • student has an impairment that, during the course of their clinical training, places the public at substantial risk of harm.

Notifiable conduct means a legislated health practitioner has:

  • practised while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • engaged in sexual misconduct in connection with the practice of their profession
  • placed the public at risk of substantial harm, in the course of their practice, due to impairment
  • placed the public at risk of harm due to a significant departure from accepted professional standards in practicing the profession.

Mandatory notifications relate to matters of a more serious nature, where public health and safety are at risk, and should be made as soon as possible whenever there is a reasonable belief that a registered practitioner or student has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct. By making a notification to the OHO in good faith the notifier is protected from civil, criminal and administrative liability, as outlined under section 237 of the National Law.

Voluntary notifications

Health practitioners, employers and educators should notify the Health Ombudsman if they believe a registered health practitioner, or a student, is a risk to the health or safety of the public.

For registered health practitioners, grounds for voluntary notification include:

  • poor professional conduct
  • sub-standard knowledge, skill, judgement or care shown by a practitioner
  • the practitioner not being considered a suitable person to hold registration
  • impairment
  • contravention of the National Law
  • contravention of a condition of their registration
  • registration being, or possibly being, improperly obtained.

For students, grounds for voluntary notification include:

  • being charged, convicted, or found guilty of an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment
  • having, or possibly having, an impairment
  • having, or possibly having, breached a condition of their registration or an undertaking given by them to a National Board.

While not mandatory, voluntary notifications are important in identifying and improving systemic issues. Voluntary notifications of a less serious nature may be referred by the OHO to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, or another appropriate organisation, for management.

It’s important to understand that the OHO’s jurisdiction is primarily around complaints in health service delivery, meaning it does not generally extend to industrial relations or human resource related issues. Matters such as these, that are determined to be outside the OHO’s jurisdiction, will usually be referred back to the health service or organisation in which they have occurred.

Relevant event notifications (self-notifications)

Relevant event notifications are to be made to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. While relevant event notifications are not managed by the OHO, health practitioners should be aware they must self-notify within 7 days to their relevant board if certain ‘relevant events’ occur. These are outlined in section 130 of the National Law and include issues relating to rights to practise, insurance, criminal charges and convictions, billing privileges and other matters.

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