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  • Health practitioner notifications on the rise

    Author: Karen Keast

The number of notifications made about nurses and midwives, optometrists, physiotherapists, psychologists, osteopaths and medical radiation practitioners has increased in 2013-14, according to new data from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

AHPRA’s 2014 annual report reveals a 16 per cent increase in notifications made against 1.4 per cent of the nation’s 619,509 health practitioners, with 10,047 notifications received in 2013-14 compared with 8648 in 2012-13.

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The report shows a 26 per cent increase in notifications made about nurses and midwives, with 1900 notifications made about nurses in 2013-14 and 110 lodged about midwives while medical practitioners received the highest number of notifications with 5,585.

Pharmacists received 514 notifications, there were 487 about psychologists, 134 were lodged about physiotherapists, 66 about optometrists, 28 about medical radiation practitioners and 11 about osteopaths.

More than 950 notifications were made about dental practitioners, 111 about chiropractors, 54 about podiatrists, 43 about occupational therapists, 26 about Chinese medicine practitioners and six notifications made about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners.

Health care entities made almost 30 per cent of the notifications, 34 per cent were received from the community, 10 per cent came from another practitioner and 10 per cent resulted from an employer or hospital.

More than 6800 notifications were assessed with no further action required in 2550 cases while disciplinary action was taken in 485 cases.

The National Boards took immediate action regarding 474 notifications, with 76 per cent of cases resulting in the practitioner’s registration being restricted as a result.

Almost 2000 investigations were finalised in 2013-14 with 1469 cases closed after investigation and 468 cases resulting in disciplinary action.

There were 473 notifications that continued beyond investigation with 242 moving to a panel hearing and 190 to a tribunal hearing.

Of the panel hearings finalised, disciplinary action was taken against more than three quarters of practitioners with restrictions placed on practice in 82 cases, 57 practitioners were cautioned, 26 were reprimanded, two surrendered their registration, and four practitioners had their registration suspended.

Tribunal hearings resulted in the practitioner’s registration being cancelled in 12 matters, suspended in 12, surrendered in two, imposed conditions on practice in 25, practitioners accepted undertakings in six cases, and one practitioner was permanently prohibited from undertaking midwifery services.

In another 43 cases, one practitioner was cautioned, 35 were reprimanded and seven were fined, while no further action was taken in 14 cases.

In 2013-14, AHPRA also conducted 61,000 criminal record checks, with National Boards taking action in 79 cases, resulting in limiting practitioners’ registration.

The report also reveals there were 547 advertising-related complaints received and of the 296 cases closed, 98 per cent were resolved when the practitioner or organisation complied with AHPRA’s demand to amend or remove the advertising.

It shows a growth in registrant numbers across all professions, with the number of psychologists increasing 3.78 per cent to 31,717 practitioners, pharmacists increasing 3.45 per cent to 28,282 practitioners and physiotherapists increasing 5.75 per cent to 26,123 practitioners.

The report also reveals more than 120,459 students are studying to be health practitioners in Australia.


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords