Each year we receive calls from our members seeking advice about the information they are required to provide on the Ahpra registration renewal form about prior complaints, impairment and criminal history. This year the form also has a new question, and this and other issues are discussed below to help you complete your registration.
“Do you have an impairment that detrimentally affects, or is likely to detrimentally affect, your capacity to practise the profession?”
The National Law defines “impairment” as: “a physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence) that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect… the person’s capacity to practise the profession”.
Ahpra confirms that this does not apply to a condition that is safely managed through treatment, aids or equipment.
If you have a permanent condition which potentially affects your “…. capacity to practise the profession” because, for example, you have to avoid certain tasks or situations, it is prudent to disclose this condition in your registration renewal. You may wish to note that it has not caused any issues with your clinical practice and attach information from your treating practitioner if appropriate.
If you are unsure about whether disclosure is required, you may wish to discuss this first with your treating practitioner for the relevant condition.
There are two questions about criminal history:
- “Since your last declaration to Ahpra, has there been any change to your criminal history in Australia that you have not disclosed to Ahpra?”
- “Since your last declaration to Ahpra, has there been any change to your criminal history in one or more countries other than Australia that you have not disclosed to Ahpra?”
It is an ongoing registration requirement under section 130 of the National Law that relevant events must be notified to Ahpra within 7 days of occurring. The events for criminal history include:
- any charge relating to an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more, and
- any conviction or finding of guilt for an offence punishable by imprisonment.
If you had such an event occur during the year, and you notified it to Ahpra within 7 days, you do not need to disclose this again on your registration renewal form.
Separate from this, as part of your renewal, you must disclose anything included in the definition of criminal history that you have not previously notified to Ahpra.
There are some differences between states and territories as to what constitutes a criminal offence in those jurisdictions. The definition of criminal history and the explanatory notes provide a guide as to the matters to be disclosed, which include:
- convictions for an offence;
- a plea of guilty or finding of guilt by a court, whether or not a conviction is recorded for the offence;
- if you are charged with an offence;
- spent convictions as spent convictions legislation does not apply to criminal history disclosure requirements;
- convictions for unpaid parking fines, only in Western Australia;
- offences where you have pleaded guilty and where the outcome was guilty without conviction, only in Queensland;
- speeding or parking fines, only in Tasmania.
If you are making a disclosure in response to this question, it is advisable to first review the Medical Board’s criminal history registration standard.
If you answer yes, you will then be able to include information in the text box about the nature of the charge or conviction and note that you are supplying any additional documents.
“Have you previously disclosed to AHPRA all known complaints made about you to:
–a registration authority; or
–another entity having functions relating to professional services provided by health practitioners or the regulation of health practitioners (in Australia or elsewhere)?”
The explanatory notes initially incorrectly stated that doctors had to tell Ahpra about any complaints, other than those made to Ahpra, including those to a health complaints authority, Medical Council, and the Office of the Health Ombudsman in Queensland. This was an error and you do not need to disclose these. Ahpra has now updated this.
If you renewed during the time these were listed as complaints that needed to be disclosed, Ahpra has confirmed that this will not affect assessment of your renewal and disclosure of such complaints has no detrimental impact on your renewal of registration. Ahpra is processing those renewal applications on the same basis as those submitted after the correction was made.
The explanation also confirms that the wording “another entity having functions relating to professional services provided by health practitioners” includes any complaints made to “an entity with responsibility for regulating medicines, drugs or poisons in a State or Territory of Australia, or an overseas regulatory body”. This would include the state or territory Pharmaceutical Regulatory Units and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and any equivalent overseas bodies.
We have also clarified with Ahpra that employment and other complaints that have been raised internally within the hospital or practice where you work do not need to be disclosed.
Exposure prone procedures
“Do you perform exposure prone procedures in your practice?”
This is a new question this year, which has been included after new national guidelines came into effect on 6 July 2020.
Exposure prone procedures are defined in the explanatory notes as: “Procedures where there is a risk of injury to the healthcare worker resulting in exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the healthcare worker. These procedures include those where the healthcare worker’s hands (whether gloved or not) may be in contact with sharp instruments, needle tips or sharp tissues (spicules of bone or teeth) inside a patient’s open body cavity, wound or confined anatomical space where the hands or fingertips may not be completely visible at all times.”
Some examples of exposure prone procedures are cardiothoracic surgery, gynaecological surgery, and neurosurgery. Some examples of non-exposure prone procedures are the insertion and maintenance of intravenous or central lines, minor suturing of uncomplicated skin lacerations and an incision of superficial abscesses.
If you answer yes to that question, then you are required to indicate whether or not you agree to comply with the “National Guidelines for the Management of Healthcare Workers Living with Blood Borne Viruses Who Perform Exposure Prone Procedures at Risk of Exposure to Blood Borne Viruses”. This includes testing for HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B at least once every three years.
You can read more information about these changes in Avant’s article here.
Expert advice whenever you need it
If you require medico-legal advice on any of these issues, you can contact our medico-legal advisers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you require immediate advice, call 1800 128 268.
Ahpra’s FAQs about registration renewal
Ahpra – registration