Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Vexatious notifications
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Vexatious notifications

What is a vexatious notification?

A vexatious notification (concern) is one without substance, made with an intent to cause distress, detriment or harassment to a practitioner named in the notification. Vexatious notifications can come from anyone including patients, members of the public and other practitioners.

We have developed a framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications. The framework supports Ahpra staff and regulatory decision makers to identify and manage potentially vexatious notifications.

This evidence-based framework will support earlier consideration of vexatiousness in a notification, prompting a range of management tasks to respond.

We have been conscious in the preparation of the framework to ensure that it does not discourage individuals with genuine concerns coming forward.

What is known about vexatious complaints?

In 2017 Ahpra commissioned independent research that took the first international look at vexatious complaints. The report, Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints found that vexatious complaints account for less than 1 percent of notifications received, and that there is greater risk of people not reporting concerns than of people making truly vexatious complaints.

The report also noted that being on the receiving end of any notification is a distressing experience for any health practitioner. Regulators need to have good processes for dealing with unfounded complaints quickly and fairly.

Access the full report here:

 Document name PDF Accessible format Document Date
Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints - Centre for Health Policy  PDF 
- November 2017 

Ahpra’s vexatious complaints framework

To help identify and manage potentially vexatious notifications, we have developed a framework for staff and regulatory decision makers, A framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications.

This framework was developed following recommendations made in the Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints’ report and forms part of our work to ensure a strong reporting culture so that genuine concerns about patient safety are reported and appropriately addressed.

The framework outlines:

  • principles and features of vexatious notifications
  • the significant impacts of vexatious notifications
  • potential indicators of vexatious notifications
  • how to identify vexatious notifications, and
  • what to do where there is a concern that a notification is vexatious.

Access the framework here:

 Document name PDF Accessible format Document Date
Framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications PDF 
Word version 
(109 KB)
December 2020 

Support for practitioners

We understand that practitioners who feel that they may be the subject of a vexatious notification are more likely to experience stress and anxiety. Our staff are equipped to identify and support these practitioners and to implement management strategies set out in our framework when a concern about vexatiousness is raised with us.

Our staff are here to help you before, during or after the notifications process. We encourage you to visit our General support services page where you can find the contact details for additional support services

More information

  • For more information about notifications visit Concerns about practitioners
  • For media enquiries: 03 8708 9200
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 9285 3010 (overseas callers).
Page reviewed 28/11/2023