The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has released its 2022/2023 annual report, revealing that 17,096 notifications were made about health practitioners nationally. This is a decrease of approximately 4% on the previous year, with the highest rate of notifications directed against medical practitioners and the most common concern being clinical care.
The annual report provides an overview of the regulation of registered health practitioners, spanning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, Chinese medicine practitioners, chiropractors, dental practitioners, medical practitioners, medical radiation practitioners, nurses and midwives, occupational therapists, optometrists, osteopaths, paramedics, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists.
The key findings of the report include the following.
9,706 notifications were made to AHPRA about 7,970 practitioners. This is a decrease of 10.2% on the previous year. Overall, 1.5% of all registered health practitioners had a notification made about them nationally.
The most common complaints were clinical care (5,419), communication (1,812), medications (1,558), documentation (755) and behaviour (740).
This is consistent with the previous year, albeit with no specific mention of notifications relating to anti-vaccination advice.
Immediate action was taken on 335 occasions, which represents a significant decrease of 51.1% on the previous year. The reduction in immediate action is primarily due to changes AHPRA has made when dealing with health matters, where more collaborative engagement with practitioners, their employers and their treating teams has allowed AHPRA to determine more quickly whether a practitioner is safe to practice - thereby avoiding the need for immediate action.
Mandatory notifications made up 10.4% of the types of notification received. This was 2.1% fewer than the previous year, with 50.6% made about nurses and 30.2% made about medical practitioners.
Compliance with advertising guidelines has previously been a focus for AHPRA, and this trend continued in 2022/2023 with 380 advertising complaints. In addition, AHPRA finalised a targeted audit of advertising about cosmetic surgery which found 65 cases of non-compliance. The enforcement of cosmetic surgery complaints has been of real focus for AHPRA noting the release of the Independent review of the regulation of medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery on 1 September, which has resulted in the establishment of a dedicated cosmetic surgery complaints hotline (which received 315 calls).
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