A code of silence? Failure to understand / properly implement mandatory notification

“While we do not seek to single out individual health practitioners for criticism in this decision, we strongly believe that the failure to make a notification concerning  (the pharmacist’s)…. condition and conduct in 2011 is indicative of a failure to understand, or properly implement, the mandatory notification provisions in the National Law. (at [137])

The comments of the Tribunal in Health Care Complaints Commission v Orr [2015] NSWCATOD 124 go well beyond expressing concern about failures to understand the mandatory reporting obligations. At [150] the Tribunal spoke of a “code of silence”, to the detriment of the public’s safety and the practitioner’s own health and professional standing.

On the issue of whether treating doctors should be obliged to report their own health practitioner patients, the Tribunal said at [148] – [149]:

Some commentators have expressed concern about treating practitioners notifying their own patients on the basis that this may inhibit impaired health practitioners from seeking treatment. The very low proportion of mandatory notifications made by treating practitioners since the inception of the National Law suggests that many doctors may feel the same way.

However this case surely stands as proof of the reverse; in that a failure to notify actually inhibited this impaired practitioner from being provided the supervision, monitoring and treatment that could have helped him, and may even have prevented the events that ultimately led to these disciplinary proceedings.


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