Medical Board backs down over naming innocent doctors

Doug Hendrie

30/07/2018 11:36:54 AM

Doctors who have been involved in disciplinary hearings with no adverse findings will no longer be named on the public register, the Medical Board of Australia has announced.

The Medical Board’s decision comes two weeks after RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel wrote to the Board calling on an immediate reversal of the policy.
The Medical Board’s decision comes two weeks after RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel wrote to the Board calling on an immediate reversal of the policy.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) has backed down on its controversial policy to name doctors under investigation and will now only publish links to serious disciplinary decisions on the public register in the event of an adverse finding against the doctor.
‘The Board will not publish links from an individual doctor’s entry on the register to public court and tribunal decisions when no adverse finding against the doctor has been made,’ the Board said in a statement.
‘[The Board] has changed its position after listening to advice from many doctors and other stakeholders that this was not fair when no adverse finding had been made about the doctor.’
The reversal comes just two weeks after RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel wrote to the Board’s Chair, Dr Joanna Flynn, calling on an immediate change to the policy.
‘The RACGP strongly recommends that the decision to link tribunal and court decisions to the public register, as they relate to medical practitioners against whom allegations have been disproven, is reversed as a matter of urgency,’ Dr Seidel wrote.
‘There is little value for patients in knowing the medical practitioner was accused and then acquitted of allegations. However, the publication of tribunal and court decisions against a medical practitioner who has been cleared of allegations will have devastating and long-lasting implications on the doctor’s career and reputation.’
The Board’s policy triggered significant unrest in the medical profession, with more than 16,000 medical professionals and supporters signing a petition calling for an immediate end to the practice.
Many expressed concern that having a doctor involved in disciplinary hearings named on the public register – regardless of the hearing’s outcomes – ran the risk of causing considerable reputational damage.
The petition was organised by Dr Steel Scott, a radiology registrar in Geelong, who told newsGP he is pleased with the outcome.
‘This shows that when the medical community gets together, we can make change,’ he said.
‘The policy they introduced was flagrantly unfair and a violation of the trust doctors have in the Board. They are now aware their policy was unfair and they have done a complete backflip.’
RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC) Chair Dr Evan Ackermann called for an end to the practice early last month.
‘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,’ Dr Ackermann wrote.  
He told newsGP the result is a victory for common sense.
‘The Board has responded appropriately and we should give kudos for responding quickly and doing the right thing,’ he said.
According to the Board, the decision to introduce links to public tribunal decisions was made ‘in the interests of transparency and on the recommendation of the Chaperone Review’.
‘It has changed its position after listening to advice from many doctors and other stakeholders that this was not fair when no adverse finding had been made about the doctor,’ the Board said.
Chair of the Board Dr Joanna Flynn believes the new decision strikes a balance between transparency and fairness.
‘This maintains community access to important public information that will help patients make informed decisions and is fair to doctors,’ she said.
There were almost 100 tribunal hearings about doctors in Australia in 2017–18.
The Board works in partnership with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to regulate medical professions.

adverse findings AHPRA court and tribunal decisions Medical Board of Australia

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Dr Peter j Strickland   30/07/2018 1:07:45 PM

The policies of the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) were initially meant to help doctors travelling within Australia with registration problems with respect to practicing in various states from time to time. All that has happened has really been an expensive bureaucracy that has developed for doctors, and unfair practices develop. Bring registration back to the States themselves where it will be cheaper, fairer, more informed about local issues and laws, and away from this apparent 'law under itself' organization. The mere fact that the MBA can publish the names of eventually innocent doctors publicly is a disgrace, and should have been challenged vigorously by ALL the Medical Colleges a long time ago, and due compensation paid for reputation damage of those innocent doctors by the MBA --- in my opinion.

Thats half correction   30/07/2018 1:13:12 PM

People who made decision to name innocent doctors publicly, on whoever's recommendations and whatever basis, should be made accountable for causing so much stress and loss of time, financial and other resources of so many doctors and others, to get this decision reversed. These people should be banned from holding any such positions which may allow them to make any harmful decisions again.

Valerie Peers   30/07/2018 8:07:20 PM

The former system of state registration was simpler and fairer. AHPRA, has become totally unbalanced and a huge bureaucracy. It has little awareness of the needs of practitioners for respect, justice and speedy resolution of vexatious and unfounded complaints. That is the problem with big bureaucracies; people no longer matter, only their systems matter and they are dehumanising.

Dr Stacey Rope   30/07/2018 8:29:15 PM

Justice has finally prevailed !

Sam   31/07/2018 6:35:23 AM

I am an overseas Doctor as well as an Australian citizen; due to workplace politics i have a notification and a condition which has resulted in loosing my job. Since it is on the public register i am unable to find a job from last 6 months. Though there was no harm, none of the my patients ever complained,all were allegations were made on assumption and the investigation will run for years together....atlast this decision makes lot of difference to genuine medical practitioner and their career so that no one can blackmail on silly reasons

The damage is done!   2/08/2018 8:38:05 AM

I thank the RACGP for pursuing this matter. It is concerning that such a powerful body as the Medical Board even considered that their past 'un-policed' behaviour ethical or useful. The unwarranted professional, financial and psychological damage that has been caused to individuals and their families is inexcusable. The philosophy of guilty until proven innocent in a country that uses Westminster law is inexcusable. Personally, I would welcome a class action for damages by all those that have been wronged. So that's the medical Board sorted. Next group that needs sorting, and are currently being challenged in the High Court, are those operating the inquisition within the 'Star Chamber' known as the Medicare Professional Services Review! I wish you well Dr Karmakar in your pursuit of what is right!

Renato Accardi   4/08/2018 3:20:45 PM

The "Guilty until proven innocent" axiom is an abomination. Why can't we get rid of it?