Mandatory reporting 101

by MIPS

Section 140 of the National Law requires that a registered health practitioner must notify the Board if, in the course of practising their profession, they form a reasonable belief that another registered health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct.

What is mandatory reporting?

Mandatory reporting refers to the ‘notifiable conduct’ that registered healthcare practitioners, employers and education providers are required to make by law. You can also make voluntary notifications. Both are these are made through the AHPRA website.

The threshold to trigger a mandatory notification is high. A practitioner or employer must have first formed a reasonable belief that the behaviour constitutes notifiable conduct or a notifiable impairment or, in the case of an education provider, a notifiable impairment.

From AHPRA’s perspective mandatory reports are a serious step to prevent the public from being placed at risk of harm.

Notifiable conduct is defined as when a practitioner has:

  • practised the profession while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, or
  • engaged in sexual misconduct in connection with their profession, or
  • placed the public at risk of substantial harm in their practice because they have an impairment, or
  • placed the public at risk of harm during their practice because of a significant departure from professional standards.

If a healthcare practitioner forms a reasonable belief that another practitioner has acted in a way that constitutes ‘notifiable conduct’ then as soon as practical they must notify the relevant AHPRA board of the offending health practitioner or the student’s notifiable conduct.

Who does mandatory reporting apply too?

The Guidelines for Mandatory Notifications published by AHPRA are common to all registered health practitioners. The guidelines are relevant to practitioners, employers and education providers (who are required to make reports).

Importantly, the obligation to make a mandatory notification applies to the conduct or impairment of all practitioners, not just those within the practitioner’s own health profession.

Why mandatory reporting?

AHPRA national law objectives are to provide protection to the public by ensuring that only suitably trained and qualified healthcare practitioners who are practising in a competent and ethical manner are registered.

All practitioners have a professional and ethical obligation to protect and promote public health and safe healthcare and under the National Law. Healthcare practitioners, employers and education providers have mandatory reporting responsibilities. The intention is to prevent the public being harmed or placed at risk. Restrictions on the practice of a health professional are to be imposed only if it is necessary to ensure health services are provided safely and are of appropriate quality.

When should I make a report?

As the aim is to protect the public, practitioners should only notify AHPRA if they believe that another practitioner has behaved in a way which presents a risk of substantial harm to the public. It is not a case of simply not liking the way someone has performed a task or feeling they could have done their job better.

Reasonable belief is a stronger level of knowledge than mere suspicion. It generally involves direct knowledge or observation of the behaviour or a report from reliable sources (such as someone who has experienced firsthand eg sexual misconduct). Mere speculation, rumours, gossip or innuendo are insufficient to form a reasonable belief.

How and where do I make a mandatory report?

It is recommended that you submit to AHPRA as soon as practical once you form a ‘reasonable belief’ that a practitioner has engaged in notifiable conduct.

Notify AHPRA by:

  • Calling 1300 419 495
  • Completing a notification form and submitting it online or by post
  • In person at an AHPRA office
Notifications can be made verbally or in writing.

Exceptions

  • WA - treating practitioners are not required to make mandatory notifications about health practitioner patients or clients.
  • QLD (in certain circumstances) – where providing a health service to a colleague and public not at risk - otherwise report to OHO.
  • MIPS clinico-legal advisers (or any MIPS staff who are registered practitioners) are also exempt in their capacity while assisting members as they are acting as your personal legal representative.
  • MIPS will not report your notifiable conduct

Where can I access information about mandatory reporting?

As mentioned, MIPS clinico-legal advisers are exempt from mandatory reporting and encourage all practitioners who have concerns about a colleague to contact us for 24hr Clinico-Legal Support on 1800 021 223

References:

Disclaimer The materials provided are for educational purposes only. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken in preparing these materials, including the accuracy of the information supplied, MIPS does not accept any liability whatsoever arising out of the use or reliance of the information provided.  Have an inquiry? Contact us

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The materials provided are for educational purposes only. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken in preparing these materials, including the accuracy of the information supplied, MIPS does not accept any liability whatsoever arising out of the use or reliance of the information provided. Contact MIPS 24/7 Clinico-Legal Support 1800 061 113 or education@mips.com.au for specific advice.