Accountability: Complaint processes against registered healthcare practitioners

Registered healthcare practitioners in Australia, including dentists, psychologists, physiotherapists, pharmacists and Chinese medicine practitioners are required to abide by national laws and a code of conduct to protect patients. Breaches of those may be reported to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Authority (AHPRA). Links to the authority and the code follow, with some potentially relevant sections.

Australia wide law provides protection for patients from the unethical practices of registered practitioners. Medical practitioners, pharmacists, physiotherapists, dentists, psychologists, Chinese Medicine practitioners, chiropractors, radiologists, nurses, midwives, occupational therapists, optometrists, osteopaths and podiatrists are required to register with AHPRA (Australian Healthcare Practitioner Regulatory Authority) and to abide by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 in addition to codes of conduct decided by the national boards for each profession under section 39 of the National Law. Complaints or notifications about registered practitioners can be made to AHPRA in all states. Their phone number is 1 300 419 495.
Note that medical practitioners (including GPs and specialists) must abide by a similar but more detailed code. I’ll cover that in an upcoming post.I’ve also posted about codes of conduct and complaints mechanisms for unregistered practitioners (Esoteric ‘healers’, chakra-puncturists, naturopaths, counsellors, psychotherapists, unaccredited nutritionists etc) in a previous post.
The Codes of Conduct for Registered Health Practitioners other than Medical doctors are fairly uniform and I’ve pasted a few relevant sections below. For full PDF versions, go to the AHPRA site, choose the appropriate practitioner board and go to the Codes and Guidelines tab. A link to the code for physiotherapists is on this page and the link for dentists is here. Psychologists have a Code of Ethics link here. Complaints to AHPRA are submitted in writing by downloading a form, or you can submit complaints via the Health Care Complaints agencies in your state: NSW HCCC, Qld HQCC and in Victoria it’s the Office of the Health Services Commissioner with links to those on the Resources page. If you find it all a bit confusing, you’re probably best to call any of those offices and talk with the staff. They’ll advise you on whether a complaint may be justified and how to make it.
In Victoria and Qld, I’d personally go through AHPRA because they appear to be better organized and resourced than the state agencies.
If you run into trouble or frustration with the complaints process, or don’t know where to begin, let us know in the comments or via the Contact form. And please don’t leave all the complaints to me. We have more chance of being taken seriously the more complaints are received. We also have a better chance of minimizing Universal Medicine’s toxic side effects if its associated practitioners are brought into line with consumer protection laws.

Grounds for complaints against registered practitioners

2.2 Good care
Maintaining a high level of professional competence and conduct is essential for good care. Good practice involves:
a). recognising and working within the limits of a practitioner’s competence and scope of practice
m). ensuring that the personal views of a practitioner do not affect the care of a patient or client adversely
n). practising in accordance with the current and accepted evidence base of the health profession, including clinical outcomes.
Relevance: Did a registered practitioner, who is not a GP or specialist, advise you or influence you to stop medication, such as thyroid medication, pain medication, cancer treatment, anti depressants or other psychiatric or neurological medication? Did a registered practitioner advise you to avoid vaccinations?
Did a registered practitioner talk to you about meditation, reincarnation or past lives whilst you were receiving treatment?
Did a registered practitioner, such as a physiotherapist, perform any ‘Esoteric’ healing modalities on you, such as chakra-puncture, breast massage, or Esoteric connective tissue therapy?
Did they talk to you about your ‘cranio-sacral’ or ‘lymphatic’ pulse, or appear to diagnose you using those?
If Esoteric therapies were performed during treatment which was medicare funded, there is also grounds for complaint to Medicare.
3.2 Partnership
A good partnership between a practitioner and the person he or she is caring for requires high standards of personal conduct. This involves:
c). protecting the privacy and right to confidentiality of patients or clients, unless release of information is required by law or by public interest considerations
Relevance: Did a practitioner discuss personal disclosures you made during treatment sessions with anyone else?
3.2 g). recognising that there is a power imbalance in the practitioner-patient/client relationship and not exploiting patients or clients physically, emotionally, sexually or financially 
8.2 Professional boundaries
Professional boundaries refers to the clear separation that should exist between professional conduct aimed at meeting the health needs of patients or clients and a practitioner’s own personal views, feelings and relationships which are not relevant to the therapeutic relationship. Professional boundaries are integral to a good practitioner-patient/client relationship. They promote good care for patients or clients and protect both parties. Good practice involves:
b). never using a professional position to establish or pursue a sexual, exploitative or otherwise inappropriate relationship with anybody under a practitioner’s care; this includes those close to the patient or client, such as their carer, guardian, spouse or the parent of a child patient or client
d). avoiding the expression of personal beliefs to patients or clients in ways that exploit their vulnerability or that are likely to cause them distress.
Relevance: Were you told you are ill because of energetic imbalances in your body such as pranic energy, dampness, lack of nurturing, lack of stillness, lack of self-love, ‘menful’ or male energy, lack of female energy etc? For example, that you have period pain because of a lack of stillness or lack of femaleness in the uterus, ovarian cancer due to lack of stillness in the ovaries, or that you suffer infertility because of the male energy in your ovaries, or a lack of self nurturing. Or that you have hardening or male imposts in your breasts, or that your baby will receive ill energy from your breast milk if that energy isn’t cleared from the breasts? Or that Rheumatoid arthritis occurs due to ‘hardening’ from anger at your parents? Were you told anything like that about your body?
Such statements are emotionally damaging and exploitative and grounds for complaint. I didn’t invent any of those statement. They are all found in writing in EDG notes and on audio in Serge’s lectures.
Were you told you need numerous Esoteric healing treatments in order to clear the ill energy from your body? (emotional and financial exploitation)
Has a registered practitioner attempted to establish a sexual relationship with a patient or anyone with a close relationship to that patient?
Has a registered practitioner other than a GP or obstetrician/gynaecologist attempted to perform a vaginal/gynaecological examination on a patient?
8.6 Advertising
Advertisements for services can be useful in providing information for patients or clients.
All advertisements must conform to relevant consumer protection legislation such as the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cwlth) and State and Territory fair trading Acts. Good practice involves:
b). making sure that any information published about services is factual and verifiable
Relevance: Have you read information on the Universal Medicine sites claiming Esoteric healing modalities, as practiced by registered practitioners, are effective for relieving symptoms?
Note that ‘Esoteric’ healing modalities were invented by an untrained and unqualified, self styled healer and any claims to being able to help symptoms or illness are not factual and not verifiable. Any registered practitioner who claims otherwise on internet sites or other forms of advertising is in breach.
8.11 Conflicts of interest
Patients or clients rely on the independence and trustworthiness of practitioners for any advice or treatment offered. A conflict of interest in practice arises when a practitioner, entrusted with acting in the interests of a patient or client, also has financial, professional or personal interests or relationships with third parties which may affect his or her care of the patient or client.
Multiple interests are common. They require identification, careful consideration, appropriate disclosure and accountability. When these interests compromise, or might reasonably be perceived by an independent observer to compromise the practitioner’s primary duty to the patient or client, practitioners must recognise and resolve this conflict in the best interests of the patient or client.
Good practice involves:
a). recognising potential conflicts of interest that may arise in relation to initiating or continuing a professional relationship with a patient or client
b). acting in the best interests of patients or clients when making referrals and when providing or arranging treatment or care
c). informing patients or clients when a practitioner has an interest that could affect, or could be perceived to affect, patient or client care
Relevance: If you presented to a registered practitioner with symptoms of illness which needed a medical examination by a GP or specialist, did the practitioner refer you to an appropriate physician or did they fail to recognize you needed medical care?
Did they refer you to another UniMed practitioner when you should have been referred to a doctor or hospital?
Did a registered practitioner refer you for treatment to an unqualified Esoteric healer? Were you told the Esoteric healer could assist in healing your symptoms or illness?
Did the referring practitioner inform you of their personal or financial connection to UniMed and its associated practitioners?
8.12 Financial and commercial dealings
Practitioners must be honest and transparent in financial arrangements with patients or clients. Good practice involves:
a). not exploiting the vulnerability or lack of knowledge of patients or clients when providing or recommending services
b). not encouraging patients or clients to give, lend or bequeath money or gifts that will benefit a practitioner directly or indirectly
d). not becoming involved financially with patients or clients; for example, through loans and investment schemes
e). not influencing patients or clients or their families to make donations to other people or organisations
f). being transparent in financial and commercial matters relating to work, including dealings with employers, insurers and other organisations or individuals and in particular:
  • declaring any relevant and material financial or commercial interest that a practitioner or his or her family might have in any aspect of the care of the patient or client
 • declaring to patients or clients any professional and financial interest in any product a practitioner might endorse or sell from his or her practice and not making an unjustifiable profit from the sale or endorsement.
Relevance: Similar to above, were you told by a registered practitioner Esoteric healing could help heal your illness or symptoms?
Were you invited (recruited) to Universal Medicine public talks/meetings or courses by a registered practitioner?
Were you invited to enter a financial relationship with the practitioner or Universal Medicine via donations, loans, bequeathing money or investing in projects?
Did the registered practitioner disclose their financial relationship with Universal Medicine when recommending UniMed services or asking for donations or investments and the like?
11.2 Research ethics
Being involved in the design, organisation, conduct or reporting of health research involving humans brings particular responsibilities for practitioners. These responsibilities, drawn from the NHMRC guidelines, include:
b). acting with honesty and integrity
e). disclosing any potential or actual conflicts of interest to the human research ethics committee
i). adhering to the approved research protocol
l). adhering to the guidelines regarding publication of findings, authorship and peer review
m). reporting possible fraud or misconduct in research as required under the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research issued by the NHMRC.
Relevance: Are you aware of research presented by registered practitioners associated with Universal Medicine which attempts to verify the efficacy of Esoteric healing treatments?
Do these so called studies adhere to approved research protocols and guidelines for peer review?
Do the authors of these studies disclose their financial and personal relationships with Universal Medicine?
AHPRA  1 300 419 495
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4 thoughts on “Accountability: Complaint processes against registered healthcare practitioners

  1. I don't think there is one code they are not in breach of… It all starts with the sham of "Medicine" which implies legitimacy, and then customers are spoon food voodoo, snake oil, and a doctrine of death by stealth, promoted by doctors, lawyers, and self-accredited practitioners who spread the "good-word" and suck more victims into the fake medical-cult member recruitment and bogus course selling scheme. Serge has succeeded to date because people are apathetic or they are embarrassed that they were done over. Time to take a stand along with Venus and put in those complaints. It will take a hour at most and save others years of pain.I know I will be.

  2. Whenever I can, I try to lighten your day DV, you work hard, so this should cheer you up a bit 🙂 I always said Serge was a bit of a knob, this just goes to prove it!http://eu.fab.com/sale/3310/product/83751/I bet his devotees will all rush to buy these seeing as how all their partners have either left or been dumped! The only way this could be improved is if they had a photo of serge on the ballend (typo!)

  3. Here's an interesting quote from Victoria Lister, basically dropping the registered medico's in it, explaining how they breach their codes by referring people to a non-proven treatment therefore abusing their positions of trust with their patients. Should be interesting reading for those considerting recently lodged APHRA complaints about this very disturbing and unethical behaviour. Thanks Victoria, you're contributions are always revealing." Mainstream medicos and Universal Medicine— September 20, 2012 by Victoria Lister, MBus(Philanthropy&NpSt), Brisbane, AustraliaI find it curious that the Courier Mail has chosen to highlight the relationships Universal Medicine enjoys with the many respected medical practitioners who refer their clients to Universal Medicine practitioners for complementary health services (New age ‘medicine’ of Serge Benhayon leaves trail of broken families, 8 Sept, 2012).Elsewhere in the media – in the press, online and on TV ­– an array of journalists have strongly inferred, if not overtly stated, that the services the organisation and its practitioners deliver are nothing short of quackery; sound bites from well-known medical commentators have been used to bolster these claims.Yet here, the fact that increasing numbers of mainstream medicos are actually choosing to refer clients to Universal Medicine is clearly stated: ‘Universal Medicine… is drawing a growing number of clients to its Brisbane clinic via referrals from eye and lung surgeons, rheumatologists and GPs’. ­And earlier: Universal Medicine is ‘…expanding its… enterprise with the help of Brisbane’s medical mainstream’.We can infer from these statements that a growing number of doctors actually see merit in the modalities Universal Medicine offers: endorsements that are stunning counterpoints to the portrayals mentioned above.So which is it to be? Universal Medicine practitioners as new-age quacks; or a Universal Medicine that offers something so significant that doctors and surgeons are now directing their clients its services?It seems the Courier Mail, in its haste to deliver a sensationalist piece of weekend news, has been clumsy in its attempt to malign the organisation. It has instead endorsed it."

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