Nurses sit up and take notice whenever ‘ AHPRA’ is mentioned. Many of us have heard about or worked with practitioners regulated by AHPRA who have been ‘reported’. For most of us, we are unaware of the total number and categories of health practitioners reported and of the subsequent actions taken. A paper has just been released in the online journal BMC medicine where researchers from The University of Melbourne ‘ sought to describe the outcomes of notifications of concern regarding the health, performance, and conduct of health practitioners from ten professions in Australia and to identify factors associated with the imposition of restrictive actions. ‘
For some Nurses the findings will not come as a surprise. The findings identified ‘In Australia, restrictive actions are rarely imposed and there is variation in their use depending on the source of the notification, the type of issue involved, and the profession of the practitioner.’‘
The following are points of interest from the results of this study.
‘Notifications to practitioner boards about the health, conduct or performance of a health practitioner are a rare event, and responses to notifications that involve restrictive actions, such as conditions on or removal from practice, are rarer still’
‘The probability of restrictive actions varied widely depending on the source of the notification (with notifications from peers more likely to result in restrictive action than those made by patients) and by profession (with notifications about doctors less likely to result in restrictive actions than those against other professions’
‘Nearly half of all notifications were due to concerns about performance issues, yet very few of these notifications resulted in restrictive actions. In contrast, relatively few notifications concerned health impairments, but a substantially larger proportion of them ended in restrictive actions’
‘This study of notifications lodged over a 2-year period against practitioners from 10 health professions found an overall rate of six notifications per 1000 practitioners per year. Doctors and dental practitioners had relatively high notification rates and nurses and midwives had relatively low rates.’
‘Final determinations were made on the majority of notifications within a year, although around one in ten took more than 2 years to resolve.’
‘In nearly 70% of cases, no further action was taken.’
‘About 10% of notifications resulted in restrictive actions, almost all of which involved some form of undertaking or conditions on practice. Only 21 notifications – about 0.3% of the total lodged – resulted in removal from practice.’
‘Notifications from peers and employers, notifications about health problems (particularly drug or alcohol problems), and notifications against dentists and psychologists had the highest odds of ending in restrictive actions.’
The research article identifies that Restrictive actions are the strongest measures health practitioner boards can take to protect the public from harm and these actions can have profound effects on the livelihood, reputations and well-being of practitioners. This article is certainly one which will Nurses think and perhaps question the overall impact that reporting to AHPRA has on the well being of the clients we serve.
You can read the article here.
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