A survey of anaesthetists’ understanding of Australian mandatory reporting laws
Australian mandatory reporting laws for healthcare practitioners were introduced nationally in July 2010. We distributed an online survey to specialist anaesthetists and anaesthesia trainees in our institution with the aim of assessing anaesthetists’ awareness, understanding and interpretation of the new laws. One hundred and three completed responses were received (response rate 67%). The majority of respondents were aware of their professional (85%) and legal (68%) reporting obligations. Respondents were most likely to report conduct relating to alcohol intoxication or sexual misconduct (75%) and least likely to report a colleague with an impairment that may be placing the public at risk of harm (12%). Consultant anaesthetists were more likely than trainees to report students (P=0.002), junior colleagues (P=0.01) and senior colleagues (P=0.03). Some anaesthetists believed the laws would deter them from seeking medical help themselves if they were impaired (39%). Mandatory reporting laws aim to improve patient safety while being fair to doctors who are reported and protecting those who report. Our survey indicates that there are differences among anaesthetists about the type of conduct they would report and their perception of the consequences of making a report.
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