Anyone can make a notification (complaint) about a registered health practitioner.
A voluntary notification would cover behaviours that present a risk but do not meet the threshold for ‘notifiable conduct’ – conduct that requires registered health practitioners to notify AHPRA.
The National Nursing and Midwifery Board may decide to take action about the notification if:
- the practitioner has been found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct
- the practitioner has been found to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional performance, or
- the practitioner’s health is impaired and their practice may place the public at risk.
You must make a report to AHPRA about a registered health practitioner if you believe she or he has:
- practised their profession while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, or
- engaged in sexual misconduct in connection with their work
- placed the public at risk of substantial harm in the practitioner’s practice of the profession because the practitioner has an impairment, or
- placed the public at risk of harm because the practitioner has practised the profession in a way that constitutes a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
You may be reported for working or providing patient care in an unsafe way, such as:
- making serious or repeated mistakes in carrying out procedures or in administering medications
- a failure to examine a patient properly or to respond reasonably to a patient’s needs
- serious mismanagement of someone’s personal information
- serious concerns about the practitioner’s skills, knowledge or judgement.
AHPRA must inform you that a notification has been made. After notifying you, AHPRA will undertake an initial assessment and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) will decide whether to investigate further. You may or may not be asked at this stage to make a response or provide further information.
After assessing the notification the NMBA could take no further action, investigate or refer you for a performance or health assessment. This step can take up to 60 days.
If the assessment determines there may be a risk of substantial harm to the public, immediate action could include:
- the suspension, or imposition of a condition on your registration
- accepting an undertaking from you or
- proposing that you surrender your registration.
You will have the opportunity to respond to this immediate action proposal. Following receipt of your response, the immediate action may not progress or immediate action will be taken as outlined in the three points above. Any restrictions will remain in place until the full investigation of the notification has occurred. Following the notification process the final outcome may result in conditions being applied to your registration.
Conditions which restrict a practitioner’s practice are published on the register of practitioners. When the NMBA decides they are no longer required to ensure safe practice, they are removed from your registration. You may, for example, be required to undertake further education or training, a specified period of supervised practice, report to a specified person about your practice for a time or refrain from an activity such as administering medications.
There may also be conditions related to your health (such as psychiatric care or drug screening) that apply to your registration. ANMF can assist members with any notification.
How does ANMF assist members who have had a notification made about their performance?
Don’t be embarrassed – we’re here to assist in what can be a stressful process, not judge you. You should contact us as soon as possible. This might even be before an AHPRA notification is received – for example, during a performance improvement process. This may prevent a notification.
Common notifications relating to a nurse’s or midwife’s performance include care of a deteriorating patient, assessment skills, medication errors, communication, documentation, time management, or failing to act.
We will ask you for communications you have received from AHPRA and we may ask you to draft a statement and provide you with an ANMF template to assist your preparation.
An ANMF professional officer will assist you through the notification process including finalising your statement, providing education advice in preparation for a performance assessment and if needed, referring your case to ANMF lawyers, Gordon Legal. On occasion and subject to the content of the notification an ANMF professional officer may represent you in an AHPRA matter.
In the event an independent performance assessment is required, it usually occurs in a simulation laboratory setting with two educators and can take up to five hours. The assessment will include specific issues raised in the notification but can include aspects of everyday practice.
ANMF, and Gordon Legal lawyers, can also help you in the process of complying with conditions/undertakings and applying to remove these conditions off the register.