What are your chances of receiving an AHPRA complaint?

Sara Bird

21/11/2019 12:36:26 PM

Medico-legal expert Sara Bird breaks down the numbers from the last year.

Opening a letter
Three-quarters of the 4801 notifications about medical practitioners finalised in 2018–19 resulted in no further action.

In 2018–19, 5.9% of medical practitioners in Australia had a notification (complaint) made about them to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), the Health Care Complaints Commission (for doctors in NSW) or the Office of the Health Ombudsman (for doctors in Queensland).
This compares to 5.1% of medical practitioners who had a notification in 2017–18.
A key message is that an AHPRA notification is unlikely to have an impact on your medical registration and ability to practise medicine.
Of the 4801 notifications about medical practitioners that were finalised in 2018–19:

  • 0.5% resulted in the doctor’s medical registration being suspended or cancelled
  • 74% resulted in no further action, with a further 16.1% of notifications referred to another body for management or dealt with by a health complaints entity
  • 5.8% resulted in conditions or an undertaking being placed on a doctor’s registration
  • 3.6% resulted in a caution or reprimand of the doctor.
There were 470 mandatory notifications made about medical practitioners, most of which involved an allegation of placing the public at risk of harm because of a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
The doctor’s medical registration was suspended, cancelled or surrendered in 3% of the mandatory notifications, and there was no further action against the doctor in 63% of the mandatory notifications.
This article first appeared on MDA National’s medico-legal blog (subscribe here) and is reproduced with its permission. MDA National recommends doctors who receive a complaint contact their medical defence organisation.

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Dr Mark Andrews   22/11/2019 9:42:34 AM

What about the psychological harm it does to the Doctor?

What can we do about vexatious complaints? Do we fund the body that investigates us at a whim?

What about recompense for all the time put into responses?

Dr Christopher St John Kear   28/05/2021 1:36:06 PM

Yes, I'm another of the lucky ones to be investigated by AHPRA. First I knew of it was a letter in the mail with a list of accusations, a request for information, and an invitation to try an prove myself innocent. Getting on for a year later, and still nowhere near a decision. I feel like "Josef K" in Kafka's "The Trial". Waiting for the next step while remaining under a judicial microscope is a punishment in itself.
I really do feel I've been assumed guilty and have to prove I'm not. This is not Natural Justice, and the system needs to be changed.
One thing others have not mentioned is that a vexatious complainant can report a GP to several different bodies about the same issue, at the same time. This means the poor GP is hit from all sides by regulators, and trying to deal with this while still working is impossible. I can understand how some Doctors take the easy way out by committing suicide. I had to take 2 weeks off work to collect the data that AHPRA wanted.