Why AHPRA must stop naming innocent doctors

Evan Ackermann

4/07/2018 12:10:55 PM

Dr Evan Ackermann outlines his belief that Australia’s health regulation agency should cease naming doctors who have been involved with disciplinary hearings regardless of the findings.

Doctors all around Australia have signed a petition urging AHPRA to stop naming practitioners who have experienced disciplinary hearings, even if no adverse findings are uncovered.
Doctors all around Australia have signed a petition urging AHPRA to stop naming practitioners who have experienced disciplinary hearings, even if no adverse findings are uncovered.

More than six hundred doctors and medical professionals have signed a petition calling for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHRPA) to abandon its practice of naming some practitioners who have experienced disciplinary hearings, even if no adverse findings against the doctor are uncovered.
Medical defence organisation Avant has described the move as ‘unfair and punitive, particularly for practitioners with no adverse findings against them’.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Perception, as we know, is often reality. Mud sticks, particularly in a professional sense, and doctors risk having something vital to their professional lives – their reputation – continually questioned when they have their name included in any suggestion of professional misconduct.
For the public interest, doctors have to sacrifice privacy rights when accusations are made. We can understand that. Some doctors can act reprehensibly, illegally and inappropriately, and justice must be served in these rare cases.
However, the innocent must also have legal protections, particularly when it comes to doctors and their all-important reputations – as professionals and as people. If an investigation turns up no adverse finding, AHPRA documentation on their record should make that very clear.
Being found innocent after legal proceedings should afford the practitioner legal rights, otherwise the law becomes meaningless. If a patient researches a doctor and discovers that an investigation took place, that doctor becomes a target for vexatious complaints, scuttlebutt and rumour.
AHPRA has crossed an ‘administrative line in the sand’.
The regulator’s role is to protect the public. But protecting the public is not a license to put in place a lifelong public humiliation for innocent parties. 
We know disciplinary hearings are not pursued lightly.
But we also know some disciplinary hearings involve good doctors who inadvertently get caught up in the wrong situation. Innocent doctors find these times very stressful and they are entitled to closure once the proceedings end, not a permanent slur against their name.
In a very real way, AHPRA’s naming of all doctors who have experienced disciplinary hearings is guilt by association.
This should stop now.

AHPRA disciplinary hearings Medical defence organisation

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Dr Joveria Javaid   6/07/2018 6:49:30 AM

Makes absolute sense. Drs have legal and above all, human rights as well.

Dr John Jackson   6/07/2018 8:05:26 AM

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr Ackermann and believe that while a doctor guilty of inappropriate behavior or professional misconduct should be named for the good of both the public and our profession, APHRAs naming of people cleared of any wrong doing is a denial of natural justice and deplorable.I urge the RACGP to fight for the rights of the innocent.

Khalid Nawab   6/07/2018 8:05:27 AM

Can we have a register of complainers ?

Dr. Rolf Tsui   6/07/2018 5:50:30 PM

It should be made clear that only disciplinary proceedings which advance to the Tribunal Level and above links the practitioner to the publicly available findings, irrespective of the results to the register.

Having said that, once proceedings have ended, it needs to be put aside and no further shaming should be done, even for those Dr's who have had Professional Misconduct Proven in their cases after a fixed period of time. To leave this slur and stain on their registration for the life of their professional careers is punitive, smacks of arrogance and denial of natural justice.

One should remember that Tribunal and Court findings are all within the public domain forever. So why would you rub salt into an already bleeding wound? Only sadist would do that.

Leong Ng, FRCP Edin   9/07/2018 6:53:06 PM

In 2006, my squeaky clean 39 y old career was tarnished by the HCCC causing the my internal suspension for 'performance issues" It took another 10 years for the HCCC to admit that these were actually 'industrial' issue. Of course the RCRAP and Minister of Health of NSW are contemporarily on written written notice. They are trying to play the waiting game: but one the initial domino falls, everything will continue falling! Check out my Bio and links in: https://independentaustralia.net/profile-on/leong-ng,134