Demystifying mandatory reporting - GP Synergy

Demystifying mandatory reporting

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, the following actions will NOT lead to a mandatory report or impact your training:

  • presenting to your GP for mental health issues
  • talking to your medical educator about your feelings of stress or burn out
  • accessing a psychologist through a Mental Health Care Plan
  • beginning treatment with medication if necessary.

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. 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 in a safe and supported manner. In the first instance, being struck off from practicing, is not the usual outcome.


Return to wellbeing circle


If you are considering self-harm or suicide, you must seek help immediately. Please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue (phone or web chat support) and make an urgent appointment with your GP.

If you or someone you are with is in immediate danger, please call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Your life is precious and things can get better with the right support.

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