Top tips to minimise the risk of an Ahpra notification


4/06/2024 5:10:43 PM

SPONSORED: Receiving an Ahpra notification is usually unexpected and unwelcome, but handling the response sensitively can help you take control.

Medical records.
As medical records are also legal documents, it is important to keep thorough and detailed clinical notes of all consultations with patients.

Ahpra notifications can be distressing for health practitioners, with many fearing it will adversely impact their career.
However, there are ways to ensure you protect yourself and your reputation.
Here are a few tips to help health practitioners minimise the risk of notifications:
The importance of documentation
Always keep thorough and detailed clinical records of all consultations with patients. Medical records are also legal documents – what you document can be scrutinised legally, hence the need to be meticulous and accurate.
Communication is key
Maintain clear communication with patients and colleagues. Document all conversations or consider following up important conversations by email. If it is a contentious topic where there is potential for dispute, the email can act as proof of evidence of what was communicated.
Be transparent and honest
Transparency and honesty are paramount if something goes wrong. An admission of human error and an apology can go a long way with patients but take care to not have your apology be misconstrued as an admission of liability.
Maintain a close network
Seek the advice of colleagues or mentors if you are unsure of how to proceed in a situation. This may help you defend your decision-making. Asking for help can prevent a situation escalating out of control.
Respect professional boundaries
Be aware of where your boundaries lie with patients and colleagues. If you find that a professional doctor–patient relationship is evolving into a personal one, have steps in place to terminate the relationship.
Use a chaperone where appropriate
A chaperone is an impartial observer present during an intimate examination of a patient. Be sure to obtain consent from the patient before using a chaperone and remember to explain the role of the chaperone during the examination. Having a chaperone present can be critical when defending allegations of sexual misconduct.
Be informed of Medicare requirements
Be aware of requirements regarding the billing of items, as they frequently change, so that you are using the item numbers correctly. Implement best practice in your Medicare billing to minimise risk and ensure Medicare billing accuracy.

Don’t self-prescribe or prescribe for friends and family
Self-prescribing is unlawful in some Australian jurisdictions. In addition, the various codes of conduct stipulate that this should be avoided wherever possible. If you have to prescribe for family, be prepared to justify your decision. Make a clear record of what you have done, and advise the patient’s GP in writing, including your clinical reasoning.
Use social media with caution
Be mindful that it can be difficult to separate personal and professional social media profiles.  Views expressed in your personal life may or may not be consistent with evidence-based material but might not necessarily be consistent with public health messaging.
Take care of your own health
Engage regularly with a GP/psychiatrist/psychologist to ensure you are prioritising yourself. This can help if concerns are ever raised that you may have a health impairment which is affecting your practise.
Take advantage of your MDO
Seek advice from your medical defence organisation (MDO) before responding to any notification. They are there to support you with any medico-legal advice.
Why join MIPS?
As part of your MIPS membership, you can benefit from $20 million of cover for claims against you, 24/7 expert medico-legal advice, plus a range of CPD accredited risk education.
Being a MIPS member gives you the security and confidence you need to protect your purpose as a healthcare practitioner. Contact us with any questions about membership on 1300 698 509 or
Medical Indemnity Protection Society ABN 64 007 067 281 | AFSL 301912
All information on this page is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal or other professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can or will be accepted by MIPS.
You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practise proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances.
Information is only current at the date initially published.
If in doubt, contact our claims and 24-hour clinico-legal advice and support team on 1300 698 573.
You should consider the appropriateness of the information and read the Member Handbook Combined PDS and FSG before making a decision on whether to join MIPS.
This article was commissioned by MIPS and independently reviewed by newsGP.
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Dr Judith Virag   19/06/2024 10:34:09 AM

I’m not clear on the advice on honestly and transparency. We should admit to human error but ensure we don’t admit liability? Is this as simple as a disclosure of what went wrong and how, followed by a disclaimer that, should the Pt sue for damages, we can’t comment on their prospects? Or should we clarify the who-did-what and decline to comment whether any of the actions were a mistake/omission? I feel the need for a workshop to practise the right wording..