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Unkindest cut: Restrictions placed on doctors

Several doctors have had restrictions placed on them by the ACT Medical Board.

Several doctors have had restrictions placed on them by the ACT Medical Board.

THE national watchdog has slapped restrictions on more than 40 Canberra health practitioners to ‘‘protect the public’’.

Those with restrictions placed on them include one practitioner under scrutiny for the way he performs circumcisions, with the regulator stating he is not to perform circumcisions without the use of adequate pain relief and that he must use the correct equipment during these procedures.

Until the end of 2013, the doctor must list for the ACT Medical Board each circumcision he has performed and the anaesthetic used in each procedure.

The doctor’s future use of analgesics during circumcisions must be in line with the Royal Australian College of Physicians guidelines and he must see a psychiatrist paid for and appointed by the medical board.

He has been allowed to choose his own mentor who was to supervise him for six months and write a report for the board.

The doctor declined to comment when contacted

The Sunday Canberra Times has uncovered the number of practitioners with restrictions placed on them after an extensive search of the the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's database (AHPRA).

One Canberra nurse, whose restrictions were wiped from his public AHPRA record on Friday, was told to undergo significant re-training in wound care, particularly simple wound dressing and associated infection control principles.

He was also told to take lessons in medicine management, dealing with acutely ill clients, what the body does to drugs and problem solving in relation to medicating patients.

While all conditions are placed on health practitioners by AHPRA to protect the public, in many cases it is unclear whether or not practitioners have made mistakes which have led to the restrictions.

Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said some publicly available AHPRA records at the moment had the potential to mislead the public, particularly if they lacked information.

Some overseas doctors, for example, needed extra training after arriving in Australia.

This often meant their public record was marked as having conditions to protect the public, without explaining why, even though they had not made any mistakes. Sometimes black marks against practitioners' records continued to be made publicly available by AHPRA.

''We have also had some concerns recently about how long these restrictions stay there [on the public record],'' he said.

''If you do your time, the record should be erased.''

Analysis of AHPRA records show at least three nurses have restrictions places on them because of their health. The details are not publicly available for privacy reasons.

Restrictions on at least another two doctors and two nurses are not described at all. AHPRA was unwilling to provide further details on the reasons for the restrictions being placed on staff.

Another doctor was told to comply with the Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia in terms of keeping clear and accurate medical records.

The medical board was to supervise his medical record keeping for one year.

All the practitioners with restrictions remained registered.

An AHPRA spokeswoman said her organisation believed all registered practitioners could provide safe care if they practised within the limits of their registration. ''Conditions are imposed to keep the public safe and, where possible, to keep the practitioner in the health workforce. AHPRA actively monitors practitioners' compliance with any conditions on their registration,'' she said.

While only a small proportion of the general public appears to know about the information made available by AHPRA, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said she fully supported the national law and the systems in place to ensure transparency and accountability to the public.


  • Isn't the use of "doctors" in the headline and "40 health practitioners" in the opening paragraph implying that there are 40 ACT doctors with restrictions in place? When you have only detailed four cases of actual doctors and at least five for nurses? While the title is technically true I believe it is also misleading.

    Date and time
    February 16, 2013, 11:50PM
    • The principle of Caesar investigating Caesar needs to be revised as its obviously open to abuse. Possibly the medical profession is at the lower end of the risk scale however there should be NO risk whatever of improper conduct. There is no doubt that the legal profession guards the interests of its brethren fiercely & the same can be said for the law enforcement industry. In all cases, investigation of alleged wrongdoing should be done by truly independent entities rather than mates of the instigator(s)..

      Yes Minister
      Woop Woop
      Date and time
      February 17, 2013, 9:07AM
      • Stupid headline! It's not "unkind" - it's called accountability. We need more of it, and not just for health professionals!

        Date and time
        February 17, 2013, 1:53PM
        • Doctors are actually being expected to practice properly or face penalties? What a concept! They don't go far enough though; if they really meant what they said they would actually STOP doctors from performing non-medical surgery. I was under the impression that non-therapeutic circumcision was banned from public hospitals?

          Stockton, CA
          Date and time
          February 18, 2013, 6:00AM
          Comments are now closed

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