What is a mandatory notification?

Notifying the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the National Boards about a concern that a health or medical practitioner may be putting public safety at risk is called a ‘notification’. Anyone can make a voluntary notification about a health practitioner, but by law, registered health practitioners, employers and education providers must make a mandatory notification in some limited circumstances. Mandatory notifications help to protect the public by ensuring that Ahpra and the National Boards are alerted to any potential risks to the public.

What’s changed?

On 1 March 2020, the requirements to make a mandatory notification changed. The changes aim to support health practitioners to seek help about their health without fearing a mandatory notification. 

Currently, registered health practitioners, including treating practitioners, and employers need to notify Ahpra if they reasonably believe another registered health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes ‘notifiable conduct’. 

Notifiable conduct is defined in section 140 of the National Law and means a practitioner has:  

  • practised their health profession while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs (‘intoxication’)
  • engaged in sexual misconduct in connection with the practice of their profession (‘sexual misconduct’) 
  • placed the public at risk of substantial harm in the practice of their profession because of an impairment (‘impairment’), or 
  • placed the public at risk of harm by practising their profession in a way that constitutes a significant departure from accepted professional standards (‘practice outside of professional standards’). 

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The National Law also requires registered health practitioners to notify AHPRA if they reasonably believe a student registered under the National Law has an impairment that while undertaking clinical training may place the public at substantial risk of harm.

Treating a patient or client who is a health or medical practitioner? 

It’s very unlikely that you will need to make a mandatory notification about them. You don’t need to notify us about a practitioner-patient unless there is a substantial risk of harm to the public or sexual misconduct.

In most cases, balancing the health needs of your practitioner-patient with public safety doesn’t mean making a mandatory notification. Like with any other patient, your practitioner-patient’s health is the priority. A practitioner who is managing a physical or mental health issue by seeking help, or who takes time off to get well, is highly unlikely to pose a substantial risk of harm.

You need to understand your obligations and only make a mandatory notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, if it is necessary to do so. If you think there is a substantial risk of harm to the public or sexual misconduct, then you may need to make a mandatory notification.

We are Australian medical indemnity insurance providers and cover your practice with medical indemnity insurance, doctors indemnity insurance, GP medical indemnity insurance, medical malpractice insurance, medical practice insurance, and more. If you are a health practitioner with Tego, we offer 24/7 medico-legal advice and support to guide you through what you need to know about the changes in Mandatory Notifications and when a client/patent warrants one. 

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitutes legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. All content on this page has been written in a generic way, and has not been presented with any knowledge of your personal objectives or financial needs.