The amount of hostility among health professionals seems to be at an all-time high.
Are “scope of practice” and “turf” battles really escalating, or it it just more visible in this modern era of anonymous comments and online posts?
The conversation gets louder and uglier.
Patients are complex creatures. Medical care is multi-faceted.
We see people with a host of pre-existing conditions (some known, and some not yet diagnosed) and they see an array of clinicians and practitioners, all of whom are supposed to be making the patient their centre of care.
Some even get better when nothing at all is done!
Remember, we all have value. It’s not necessary to marginalize each other to take pride in our own worth.
Doctors are important. Nurses are important. Pharmacists are important, as are dentists, physiotherapists, naturopaths.
We all exist to help patients, not to put each other down in some kind of battle for supremacy.
When I get up in the morning, I come to work to take care of patients to the best of my ability.
I can’t do it without the rest of you, and from time to time, you can’t do it without me.
I won’t devalue anything you bring to the table, and I expect the same from you.
In that regard, what is it with the current “malicious” complaints system?
If our system is so good, why is there an assortment of doctors and nurses who claim to be victims of their colleagues, aided and abetted by the myriad health regulators and medical investigators there to protect the public from harm?
This system we have can destroy lives and careers, and just as importantly, professional reputations.
Perhaps the real motivation for the process can stem from professional jealousy.
Look at the people who have been pursued.
Melbourne paediatric surgeon Professor Paddy Dewan, World-renowned brain surgeon Dr Charlie Teo, and NSW nurse Jane Thompson are prominent health practitioners who have been through the vexatious system.
Former AMA President and Melbourne GP Dr Mukesh Haikerwal claims that vexatious complaints are allowed to flourish.
Under national law, there are legal protections for those making complaints against doctors and other health professionals. These were introduced so that whistleblowers would not require conclusive proof of incompetence or wrongdoing before they make a complaint to AHPRA.
As long as they make their complaint in “good faith”, under the law they could not be prosecuted for defamation if the complaint was subsequently shown to be unfounded.
Often, the innocent are targeted. Unfounded complaints are made, investigations are carried out, damage done, and in reality,those responsible for setting events in motion are free to walk away.
Under AHPRA laws, the watchdog will also investigate completely anonymous complaints against health professionals.
Perhaps, the core allegation is that the mechanism for deciding truth and falsehood, guilt and innocence – the regulatory process itself – has been corrupted.
Is this fair?