Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - New framework supports identification and management of vexatious notifications

New framework supports identification and management of vexatious notifications

10 Dec 2020

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has released a framework to support the identification and management of vexatious notifications.

The Framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications (the Framework) has been developed to identify and manage potentially vexatious complaints. The Framework was developed based on recommendations outlined in the Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners conducted by the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman (NHPO).

This work builds on a research report published in 2018 Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints: Summary report of a literature review prepared for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. This research was the first international literature review of vexatious complaints in health practitioner regulation. The report found that the number of vexatious complaints dealt with in Australia and internationally is very small, representing less than one per cent but concluded that these complaints have a big effect on everyone involved.

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said the publication of the Framework was an important milestone in more rapidly responding to concerns about the potential vexatiousness of a complaint.

‘We are committed to making sure that legitimate concerns about patient safety are reported to us, however, when we first receive a complaint about a health practitioner it is not always immediately obvious that it may be vexatious, nor is it always clear that a truly vexatious complaint does not include genuine risk to patients.’

‘This evidence-based Framework will help us clearly and confidently identify when a complaint is vexatious. It will ensure we address any risks to patient safety in an appropriate way and in a manner that doesn’t discourage people with genuine concerns coming forward’ he said.

The Framework, which is an important element in the commitment Ahpra has with the Senate Affairs Reference Committee inquiry into the medical complaints process in Australia, will help Ahpra and National Boards to more effectively manage notifications by:

  • identifying the features of a potentially vexatious notification for the purposes of the National Law
  • outlining how to manage notifications where those features are identified
  • ensuring the utilisation of the resources of the national registration and accreditation scheme in an appropriate way
  • reducing the serious impact of vexatious notifications on practitioners, and
  • ensuring the process is fair and open for all involved.

The Framework, along with the research report have been published on the Ahpra website.

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Page reviewed 10/12/2020