February 2019

Update Medical Board of Australia

Medical Board of Australia news

Consultation

Tell us what you think about our draft guidelines on complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments

We are now consulting on options to more clearly regulate medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.

We know that many medical practitioners and consumers hold diverse and passionate views about these issues. We are consulting on options to best protect patients and minimise the risk of harm to them, without stifling innovation, making a judgement about specific clinical practices or limiting patients’ right to choose their healthcare.

The consultation paper, including a discussion paper and draft guidelines, are published on the Board’s website.

The proposed draft guidelines provide a framework for doctors practising in this area, but do not rule in or out specific complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments. They are designed to be used alongside Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia.

There is not yet a widely agreed definition of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments and the Board is consulting on a proposed definition that includes:

‘…any assessment, diagnostic technique or procedure, diagnosis, practice, medicine, therapy or treatment that is not usually considered to be part of conventional medicine, whether used in addition to, or instead of, conventional medicine. This includes unconventional use of approved medical devices and therapies’.

Read more about the consultation and the options in the news item. The consultation paper is on the Board’s website under Current consultations. The Board is keen to hear from practitioners, stakeholders and the community.

Please email written submissions to medboardconsultation@ahpra.gov.au marked: ‘Consultation on complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments’.

The consultation closes on 12 April 2019.

The Board generally publishes submissions to consultations on its website to encourage discussion and inform the community and stakeholders, unless confidentiality is requested. For more detail, please refer to the section on publication of submissions in the consultation paper.

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Annual report

Medical profession-specific report released

We have published medicine-specific data from our 2017/18 annual report.

The report provides a snapshot of the medical profession on 30 June 2018. It includes:

  • 115,113 medical practitioners were registered in 2017/18
  • 17,121 new applications for registration were received
  • medical practitioners make up 16.4% of all registered health practitioners in Australia
  • 42.7% of medical practitioners are women
  • 0.4% of medical practitioners identified as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • most medical practitioners (35,303) are based in New South Wales
  • the Northern Territory was home to the smallest number of doctors (1,346)
  • doctors aged between 30-34 (16,605) form the largest age bracket in the profession
  • 821 medical practitioners were aged under 25
  • 1,333 were aged 80 or over
  • 55% of registered medical practitioners had specialist registration
  • 3,749 notifications (complaints or concerns) were lodged with AHPRA about medical practitioners
  • 255 mandatory notifications were made about medical practitioners, most (188) about standards
  • AHPRA closed 3,703 notifications about medical practitioners in 2017/18, with 80.2% resulting in no further action
  • 176 complaints were made about possible statutory offences by medical practitioners during the year. Two-thirds of new matters related to title and practice protection, and most of the rest were about advertising breaches.

To download this report, or to read the full 2017/18 annual report, visit the AHPRA website.

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New CDNA guidelines

Updated guidelines for healthcare workers - bloodborne viruses and exposure-prone procedures

Updated guidelines are now in place for healthcare workers who perform exposure-prone procedures (EPPs) and healthcare workers living with a bloodborne virus (BBV).

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) has published the updated guidelines – Australian national guidelines for the management of healthcare workers living with blood borne viruses and healthcare workers who perform exposure prone procedures at risk of exposure to blood borne viruses – which have been endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC).

The guidelines include measures related to the prevention of transmission from, and the management and treatment of healthcare workers with hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and/or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

They apply to all healthcare workers (including students), particularly those who perform EPPs. All healthcare workers who perform EPPs are expected to comply with the guidelines. This includes taking reasonable steps to know their BBV status and being tested for BBV at least once every three years.

The Board is now developing guidelines that will complement the CDNA guidelines. We will consult with the profession and the community about this later this year.

The CDNA guidelines are available on the Department of Health website.  

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Accreditation

Providing high quality education and training

The Board has approved the following:

Specialist college program of study

Provider Program Approved Expiry
Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists 19 December 2018 31 March 2023
Fellowship of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists 19 December 2018 31 March 2023

Intern training accreditation authority

Authority Approved Expiry
Canberra Region Medical Education Council 19 December 2018 31 March 2019
Postgraduate Medical Education Council of Tasmania 19 December 2018 31 March 2019
South Australian Medical Education and Training Health Advisory Council 19 December 2018 31 March 2019
Prevocational Medical Accreditation Queensland 19 December 2018 To be determined

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Quarterly registration data published

Latest profession-specific statistics published

The Board publishes statistics each quarter on the medical profession. Data are broken down by state and territory, registration type and for specialists, by specialty and field of specialty.

The latest data are available on the Board’s website under Statistics on the News page.  

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Alerts

Reminder for GPs from the coroner − patients who present with mental health concerns

The Northern Territory Coroner has asked the Medical Board to remind general practitioners about their obligations when a patient presents with mental health concerns.

In a recent case, the coroner found there was poor coordination of care between two general practitioners and the local mental health service.

He highlighted ‘the care and attention required, the obligation to take a detailed history, undertake an appropriate assessment and take proper notes’.

The coroner stated there were 17 interactions with health practitioners over the last nine weeks of the young woman’s life during which ‘no adequate detailed history was taken. At no time was she properly assessed. At no time was she asked to undertake formal testing to assist in determining the severity of her symptoms or diagnosis. At no time was she appropriately diagnosed’.

The Board’s code of conduct, Good medical practice, provides guidance on providing good care including taking into account the history when assessing a patient (section 2.1) and keeping clear and accurate medical records (section 8.4). It also provides guidance on coordinating care with other doctors (section 4.4).

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Medical regulation at work

Latest tribunal decisions published online

There are important lessons for registered medical practitioners from tribunal decisions. The Medical Board of Australia refers the most serious concerns about medical practitioners to tribunals in each state and territory. These cases were published recently:

  • the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has cautioned an orthopaedic surgeon in relation to his treatment of a patient’s infection following a total hip arthroplasty (Medical Board of Australia v Cooke)
  • the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia has reprimanded a medical practitioner and placed conditions on his registration for prescribing medication for himself and his former partner (Medical Board of Australia and Lee)

  • the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia has reprimanded, fined and suspended a specialist obstetrician in relation to his performance during the delivery of a baby (Medical Board of Australia and Basu). 

Publication of panel, court and tribunal decisions

AHPRA, on behalf of the 15 National Boards, publishes a record of panel, court and tribunal decisions about registered health practitioners.

When investigating a notification, the Board may refer a medical practitioner to a health panel hearing, or a performance and professional standards panel hearing. Under the National Law , panel hearings are not open to the public. AHPRA publishes a record of panel hearing decisions made since July 2010. Practitioners’ names are not published, consistent with the National Law.

Summaries of tribunal and court cases are published on the Court and tribunal decisions page of the AHPRA website. The Board and AHPRA sometimes choose to not publish summaries, for example about cases involving practitioners with impairment. 

In New South Wales and Queensland, different arrangements are in place. More information is available on AHPRA’s website on the Make a complaint page.


1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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Contacting the Board

  • The Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA can be contacted by phone on 1300 419 495.
  • For more information, see the Medical Board of Australia website and the AHPRA website.
  • Lodge an enquiry form through the website under Contact us at the bottom of every web page.
  • Mail correspondence can be addressed to: Dr Anne Tonkin, Chair, Medical Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

More information

Please note: Practitioners are responsible for keeping up to date with the Board’s expectations about their professional obligations. The Board publishes standards, codes and guidelines as well as alerts in its newsletter. If you unsubscribe from this newsletter you are still required to keep up to date with information published on the Board’s website.

Comment on the Board newsletter is welcome and should be sent to newsletters@ahpra.gov.au.

For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the AHPRA customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).

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Page reviewed 18/09/2019