Why is NSW law interpreted as requiring mandatory notification of all involuntary hospital admissions of nurses and doctors to their respective councils and to AHPRA, while the rest of Australia does not require this? In the latest Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), Dr Minh Le Cong outlines why he thinks this is a matter of concern for all health practitioners.
Dr Le Cong tells the tale of a nurse called SJ, who after a relationship break-up became increasingly depressed and sought help from several doctors and psychologists. Her depression worsened and she became suicidal. She stopped working as a nurse and was admitted to hospital where she tried to kill herself. After this, she became an involuntary patient and the treating psychiatrist told her he was obliged to notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Dr Le Cong writes: “It must be reinforced here that Australian national mandatory reporting law does not specifically require all involuntary admissions of health practitioners to be reported. … On further investigation, it appears this issue is unique to NSW and has been an area of debate ever since national reporting laws were introduced in 2010.”
“…Certainly, [this nurse] found it very difficult to trust future treating doctors when trying to report her suicidal feelings and thoughts, as there was constant threat of being reported again to AHPRA. … Clearly the law is intended to provide protection to the public from impaired health practitioners, as well as direct treatment and health care for the practitioner, but the tragedy is that it engenders lack of trust in treating professionals.”
“[The nurse] has not been deregistered and can still work as a nurse in NSW. She has had to undertake a health assessment and appear before a review panel. The stress and trauma of this entire process has made for an incredibly difficult recovery from her depression and she continues to lack trust in NSW health professionals, given the system of reporting there.”
“Sure, lets protect the public, but let’s not make the cure worse than the illness.”
What do you think? Are you in NSW or another state or territory?