New law greenlights higher mandatory reporting threshold for treating doctors

01 March 2019 | Avant media

This week, new national mandatory reporting reforms were passed changing the requirements under the National Law for doctors treating other health practitioners.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (the bill) contains a new, higher threshold for treating doctors to report a practitioner-patient for an impairment (e.g. health condition), intoxication or substandard practice. Under these new provisions, a treating doctor is only required to report this conduct if the public is being placed at substantial risk of harm. This is a higher standard from the current threshold. Treating doctors have a stricter obligation to report sexual misconduct, now having to report past, current and future risk of sexual misconduct.

The mandatory reporting laws will apply in all states and territories except for Western Australia, where doctors are exempt.

AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia have committed to providing education to doctors about the mandatory reporting changes. We have offered to assist in this area. It is expected the education campaign will be delivered in late 2019 and the first half of 2020 and the National Board will develop revised guidelines for mandatory reporting. The Queensland Government has indicated consideration will be given to the most appropriate time to commence the legislation once the education campaign has been substantially rolled out and after the guidelines have been developed.

The Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Health Council proposed amendments to the laws in August 2018. The revised laws in the bill were referred to a parliamentary committee for further review. In early February, the parliamentary committee released its report, recommending the bill be passed without any changes.

Avant made a submission to the COAG Health Council’s proposed mandatory reporting reforms and along with the AMA and many medical colleges, urged legislators to adopt the ‘WA model’ nationally.

What do you think?

We are always interested in what our members think. If you have any questions or feedback on the changes to the mandatory reporting requirements, please email: editor@avant.org.au

Look out for further updates when the legislation comes into effect and how it will impact the way you practise.

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