Anyone can make a voluntary notification about a health practitioner, but by law, registered health practitioners, employers and education providers must make a mandatory notification in limited circumstances.
Mandatory notifications help to protect the public by ensuing the health practitioner boards, including the Dental Board of Australia, and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) are alerted to any potential risk to the public.
There are four concerns that may trigger a mandatory notification:
- intoxication while practising
- significant departure from accepted professional standards, and
- sexual misconduct.
Groups and individuals who may be required to make mandatory notifications are:
- treating practitioners (i.e. you become aware of the concern while treating the registered practitioner as your patient)
- non-treating practitioners (e.g. colleagues who are registered practitioners)
- employers of practitioners, and
- education providers (only in relation to registered students and impairment)
Understanding when to make a mandatory notification and when not to is an important way in which dental practitioners can help to protect the public and support their colleagues.
Registered students are not required to make mandatory notifications about other students or practitioners. However, students (like anyone) may make a voluntary notification if they have concerns about a practitioner or student.
Education providers only need to make a mandatory notification about a student when they have a 'reasonable belief' that a student has an impairment that, when undertaking clinical training, may place the public at substantial risk of harm (a very high threshold for reporting risk of harm to the public). The Guidelines: Mandatory notifications about registered students set out factors that may help in assessing the level of risk to the public and also gives advice about when impairment must be reported.