Mandatory reporting erodes doctors’ rights: Australian academic

A prominent Australian doctor has criticised mandatory reporting laws, saying that they damage the right of her colleagues to confidential healthcare. Professor Kerryn Phelps, former president of the Australian Medical Association and now a lecturer at the University of Sydney, argues that “the news that since the introduction of mandatory reporting laws, the number of doctors seeking help from doctors’ advisory services has plummeted to almost zero” is “predictable” and “dangerous”.

Professor Phelps says that there is a “perversity in the mandatory reporting requirement that was entirely predictable and will result in paradoxically less patient safety.” Currently doctors are required to report colleagues in cases of sexual abuse, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while working and engaging in conduct which may harm another person.

According to Phelps, doctors most in need of treatment will be far less likely to seek treatment, unless stricken with a disaster that they cannot take care of by themselves. She argues that doctors’ careers and reputations are at risk because the confidentiality of their personal medical care is compromised by mandatory reporting laws.

Phelps continues, “it is just not good enough for the medical board to put mandatory reporting in place before the development of agreed protocols for best practice in doctors’ health. That is putting the cart before the horse.” ~ Medical Observer, Nov 8

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