Despite a health practitioner's best efforts, sometimes conditions may still be imposed upon their registration by a Health Practitioner National Board via the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) or the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland.
Having conditions placed on your professional registration is a daunting prospect, as failing to comply with conditions can have serious consequences for your practice and continuing employment. It is vital for health practitioners to be aware of their obligations surrounding compliance with their conditions, to ensure that when the time comes for review of the conditions, they are best placed to successfully argue that the conditions are no longer required to protect the public.
What kinds of conditions can be imposed on my registration?
Conditions can be placed on a health practitioner's registration for health, conduct or performance reasons. This means that there is a wide variety of conditions that might be imposed, depending upon the circumstances of the complaint.
Whilst not an exhaustive list, conditions can include requirements for the practitioner to:
- undergo further education;
- attend treating medical practitioners;
- undergo alcohol or drug testing;
- have their rights to administer medications limited;
- require their place of practice to be approved;
- require their practice to be supervised; or
- undergo mentoring.
When conditions are imposed, they will appear against your name on the register of practitioners. The only conditions which do not, are those that relate exclusively to health.
For how long do conditions remain on my registration?
The regulator will set a review period for your conditions. Standard review periods can range from three to twelve months, sometimes more. You cannot apply for review of your conditions outside the review period unless there is a material change in your circumstances.
This means that your conditions will generally remain in place for the full period assigned by the regulator. After that period ends, you can apply to have the conditions adjusted or removed. It is important to note that your conditions will not be removed unless you formally request a review of them.
Even if you ask the regulator to review your conditions, the regulator may refuse an application if they believe that the health practitioner remains a risk to the public in some way. Strict compliance with the terms of your conditions can assist in having your conditions successfully reviewed when the review period ends.
Obligation to comply with conditions and regulatory action for non-compliance
It is the health practitioners' personal obligation to comply with their conditions. Conditions can often be confusing and health practitioners can sometimes find them quite onerous to comply with.
Compliance is strictly enforced. You might be considered non-compliant for doing something that the conditions prohibit, or if you fail to provide information requested within the required time-frames. Even a failure to return forms on time is considered non-compliance.
Failure to comply with conditions or requests for information may be seen as a refusal to engage in the process. Should you fail to comply with conditions, the regulator will provide you with a show cause notice requesting an explanation of your non-compliance.
Often, non-compliance can arise due to a misunderstanding of your obligations. However, persistent episodes of non-compliance are treated seriously by the regulator. These can lead to relevant action being taken against you which at its most serious, could include being referred to a panel or tribunal for professional misconduct.
Frequent episodes of non-compliance can also impact a health practitioners' application to review their conditions, and may delay a successful review or lead to refusal of the practitioners' application.
Seek legal advice
Having conditions imposed on your registration can be confronting, and confusing. Considering the importance of complying strictly with your obligations, it is important to seek legal advice early if you have any concerns and to assist with your application for review.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.