Every time we seek help from a health professional we should be satisfied with how we were treated. However, this is not always the case and doctors (incl IMEs) can have an unprofessional behaviour, be incompetent, make a poor decision or make a mistake.
Basically health consumers (patients, incl. you the injured worker) have rights that guarantee them:
- a satisfactory service.
- dignity and privacy.
- adequate information.
- due skill.
- treatment in a professional manner.
- the right to redress if these measures aren’t met.
For example in Victoria: The Medical Practice Act 1994
It’s important not to accept poor treatment, but to make a complaint about it. This doesn’t just benefit you the injured worker (in this case), it’s also in the community’s interests because it means there’s less likelihood of someone else experiencing the same problem in the future.
Complain about a doctor or health professional
You can complain about a health practitioner eg a doctor (incl an IME), chiropractor, dentist, nurse, optometrist, osteopath, pharmacist, physiotherapist, podiatrist, psychologist.
Each State and Territory has a free, independent health service to help consumers with health service complaints, across all aspects of health in the public and private sector. Your complaint may be about a private medical practitioner (i.e your treating doctor evenan IME), a nursing home, a hostel or supported accommodation facility, a public or private hospital, or any other person or place providing a health service.
1. Australian Health Complaints Commissioners
Independent Health Services Commissions (state & territory)
- Victoria – Office of Health Services Commissioner – How to make a complaint
- New South Wales – Health Care Complaints Commission –How to make a complaint
- Queensland – Health Quality & Complaints Commission – How to make a complaint
- South Australia – Health & Community Services Complaints Commissioner – How to make a complaint
- Australian Capital Territory – Health Services Commission – Info for consumers
- Northern Territory – Health & Community Services Complaints Commission – How to make a complaint
- Tasmania – Health Complaints Commissioner – How to make a complaint
- Western Australia – Health and Disability Services Complaints Office – How to make a complaint
When can you make a complaint?
If the health service provider has
- failed to provide a service or provided a service that was unnecessary
- denied you dignity or privacy
- failed to give you adequate information
- denied you access to information about your health care
- failed to exercise due skill
- failed to treat you in a professional manner
Who is a health service provider?
This includes doctors, dentists, specialists, hospitals (public and private), physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers in a health setting, nursing homes, hostels, supported residential services, nurses, acupuncturists, ambulance
services, community health centres, occupational therapists, optometrists, dietitians, physiotherapists, psychologists, psychiatric
services, speech therapists.
Who can make a complaint?
- the (any) user of a health service (e.g a patient, an injured worker)
- a person appointed by the user, acting as power of attorney or authorised by law
- a parent or guardian of a child under 14
- another health service provider
- approved/prescribed persons
2. Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the organisation responsible for the registration and accreditation of 10 health professions across Australia (since 1 July 2010).
It supports 10 National Boards that are responsible for regulating the 10 health professions.
The primary role of the Boards is to protect the public and they set standards and policies that all registered health practitioners must meet.
AHPRA works together with the Health Complaints Commissions in each State and Territory to make sure the appropriate organisation investigates community concerns about individual, registered health practitioners.
3. Health Practioner’s Professional Association
You can also be able to complain to your state/territory branch of the health practitioner’s professional association, e.g. about a breach of professional ethics . Note that these associations take complaints about their members only.
Australian Medical Association AMA
Contacts for all states and territories (as listed below)
Postal Address: PO Box 6090, KINGSTON ACT 2604
Street Address: 42 Macquarie Street, BARTON ACT 2600
Phone: 02 6270 5410
Australian Dental Association
Chiropractors’ Association of Australia
Contacts for all states
Australian Osteopathic Association
Good read: How to make a complaint – The Australian medical system, what to do and who to go to if something goes wrong – ABC Health and Wellbeing