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Demystifying mandatory reporting

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Many doctors do not seek the help they need due to fear and stigma surrounding mandatory reporting. In reality, there are very few circumstances where the treating practitioner is obligated to report.

When do you have to report?

Firstly, it must be notifiable conduct’ which is defined as:

  • practising while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • sexual misconduct in the practice of the profession (regardless of patient consent)
  • placing the public at risk of substantial harm because of an impairment (health issue), or
  • placing the public at risk because of a significant departure from accepted professional standards (this does not apply to new innovative methods that are within the standards of that specialty).

Secondly, the person notifying needs to have ‘reasonable belief’. This should be based on known events rather than anecdotal accounts. Work-place gossip, hearsay or speculation are not sufficient to justify reasonable belief.

Myth Busters

Unless any of the above applies:

  • presenting to your GP for mental health issues
  • accessing a psychologist through a Mental Health Care Plan
  • beginning treatment with medication if necessary

it will NOT lead to an automatic reporting or impact your training

Taking these points into consideration, if a doctor is seeking professional help from another doctor for a condition, and actively participating in treatment, they should do so without fear of reprimand.

If a notification is made, it will be subject to review. Being struck off from practicing, is not necessarily the outcome. Efforts will be made to ensure the safety of the person in question, and the public, and that the person is receiving the help they need.

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