Complain about a doctor

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.
These rights are covered by codes of conduct and are backed up by legislation – for example the Medical Practice Acts in each State (*), the Trade Practices Act, and common laws related to personal injury.

For example in Victoria: The Medical Practice Act 1994

medical-ethicsIt’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)

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.

Members of the public may make a notification to AHPRA about the conduct, health or performance  of a practitioner.

The AHPRA website can be found here

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)

AMA Federal

Phone: 02 6270 5400
Fax: 02 6270 5499

Email: ama@ama.com.au Website: www.ama.com.au

Postal Address: PO Box 6090, KINGSTON ACT 2604
Street Address: 42 Macquarie Street, BARTON ACT 2600

AMA ACT

Phone: 02 6270 5410

Email: reception@ama-act.com.au

Website: www.ama-act.com.au

AMA NSW

Phone: 02 9439 8822

Email: enquiries@amansw.com.au

Website: www.amansw.com.au

 

AMA NT

Phone: 08 8981 7479

Email:amant@amant.com.au

Website: www.amant.com.au

AMA QLD

Phone: 07 3872 2222

Email: amaq@amaq.com.au

Website: www.amaq.com.au

 

AMA SA

Phone: 08 8361 0100

Email: admin@amasa.org.au

Website: www.amasa.org.au

 

AMA TAS

Phone: 03 6223 2047

Email: ama@amatas.com.au

Website: www.amatas.com.au

 

AMA VIC

Phone: 03 9280 8722

Email: amavic@amavic.com.au

Website: www.amavic.com.au

 

AMA WA

Phone: 08 9273 3000

Email: mail@amawa.com.au

Website: www.amawa.com.au

 

Other

Australian Dental Association
National office

Chiropractors’ Association of Australia
Contacts for all states

Royal College of Nursing
National Office

Optometrists Association
National office

Australasian Podiatry Council
National office
State Associations

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
National and state contacts
Code of ethics

Australian Psychological Society
National office
Code of ethics

Australian Osteopathic Association
National office

Australian Physiotherapy Association
National and state offices
Code of conduct

IME Complaints

See how to make a complaint in VIC about WorkCover, its agents or an IME

Additional resources

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

 

10 Responses to “Complain about a doctor”

  1. On behalf of many njured workers – Has anyone lodged a complaint about an IME with the health care complaints commission? Or the APHRA or AMA? If so how did you go about it and is there anything an injured worker needs to consider when lodging a complaint? What was your experience?

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    • My husband and I made a complaint to the HCCC in NSW regarding an Approved Medical Specialist, medico legal assessment where the AMS made my husband assist with his other arm in range of motion tests as well as a number of other things including the misrepresentations of what occurred during the examination and the outright false reporting of the imaging studies as if these were the actual reports of the radiologists when they were his version. There were also selected bits of reports and omission of relevant sections of the treating specialists reports all designed to bias the information so it would look consistent with the fraudulent scores he allocated. We had already made a complaint to the WCC and they removed his report. He virtually admitted to what he did but qualified it by saying his actions didn’t bias the results!! He was counseled by the WCC. The first reply from the HCCC was that they don’t deal with Medico Legal matters!!! I then accessed the Legislation and sent them a copy and told them –“Yes you do!!!” We asked to met with them in Sydney and they advise us they were not in Sydney!!! We found they were when we turned up on their door step unexpectedly!! We met with one officer who basically told us we wouldn’t be believed if the matter went to prosecution. I said I would provide a stat dec and was told I would be looked at as a biased witness!! We then had the WCC provide them all their information but still the HCCC maintained the burden of proof was too high for them to do anything. They didn’t even put the complaint to the AMS from what I can see. We went back to the WCC and were advise on how to write the complaint in light of the breaches of the AMS Code of Conduct which has now been done and the matter is still under significant investigation by the WCC as we found a lot more about the AMS in cases on their website to indicate he has done exactly the same to many other injured workers. Then the old f…er died without even having to face up to the complaints!!! If the HCCC had actually known what they were talking about and had allowed us to go through it all properly with them this doctor who was a high profile doctor may have actually been prevented from doing what he did to my husband to other injured workers. The HCCC must met a burden of proof that is a criminal burden “beyond reasonable doubt” to prosecute, but when the doctor admits to cheating the tests indicating he has lied in his medical report where he is “conclusively presumed to be correct” you would think that would be enough to show he deliberately provided false evidence in a witness statement. I thought false statements in court documents would be illegal, but then who am I to think the laws actually apply to these doggy doctors? One of the worst things was when the HCCC rep said in words to the effect of- “A doctor guilty of sexual abuse doesn’t even get prosecuted in most cases so why would you think this doctor would?” Just goes to show how bad it really is for injured workers who make the effort to complain.

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      Make them accountable September 30, 2014 at 8:29 am
      • @Make them accountable – thank you so so much for sharing your experience, and good on you for making a complaint.
        However your negative experience just reinforces what we have heard from other injured workers re complaints made to the health commission…. Not good enough!

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        • Thanks. One thing to remember is the HCCC and WorkCover in NSW at least have policy that says they can investigate further if they get five or six complaints about a doctor or allied health practitioner or alternatively if the complaint are serious enough to demonstrate the need for investigation. So this means the quantity of complaints is just as important as the quality of the complaint. If a worker can’t prove what they are saying “beyond reasonable doubt” but a lot of injured workers are making the same complaint about the same doctor it is more likely someone will eventually take notice. WorkCover NSW can decline to approve an assessor if they want so if all injured workers need to make genuine complaints backed by stat decs from support persons and any other evidence to show factual errors in the report or evidence of bias etc if we are to ever make these people accountable.
          Just a question-if I change my name does the administrator still know I am the same person? Just asking because I am happy for you to know who I am although want to maintain anonymity in the public eyes just as most people do for good reason.

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          Make them accountable September 30, 2014 at 10:03 am
          • @Make them Accountable – re your question – we currently run a program that strips IP addresses from comments. If we undo it we may be able to see IP addresses, but some people are allocated the same (range) of IP’s and in that case we don’t know who is who. If you use a static IP we may find out who posted comments under which IP and deduct the name (nickname).

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            • That’s good. I have posted under a different name now and then so as not to be obvious to the people we have made complaints about. I promise I do not answer my own questions. Have had a lot of experience with complaints and fighting back and have a lot of success and hopefully this will all become public knowledge when it is all over because we (husband and I) have just kept going higher and higher collecting more and more evidence of corrupt behaviours along the way. To date we have had my insurer admit they have not been following legislated guidelines and not only have they said they will be retraining their staff, they have advised they will no longer be using two of the IMEs they were using to provide corrupt reports! They could not use my last IME report after what I predicted about this psych all came to fruition when he provided just what the insurer’s solicitors asked for. I would love to say who but can’t risk before all investigations are over. WorkCover are actually supporting us in this and have been asked to supply evidence of corrupt behaviours. We also have the support of some pollies.
              Keep up the good work. If we all join together we can achieve much.

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              Make them accountable September 30, 2014 at 8:30 pm
    • yes I have done so on the 29th of September 2014

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    • I made a complaint about an IME that I saw last year. For starters there was no real assessment done and I was in his rooms for less than ten minutes. When I received the report it said I was in there for an hour and the report was very descriptive, yet our conversation was vague and not in depth at all.
      I put all of this in writing and even had proof of the appointment lasting under ten minutes with receipts from taxis to and from.
      In the end it went nowhere and I was told that the Dr had been told to keep an eye on the time. I wasn’t even given the chance to have another assessment, so the false report is now on my record. The complaints process is clearly weighted towards the IMEs and in turn the w/c insurers.
      I unfortunately found out that it wasn’t even worth the effort, but I would complain again either way

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  2. I don’t know about other states but in Victoria you can secretly use audio video devices to record your appointment without a doctors knowledge…. any lies or stretched stories can then be confirmed and it is legal.

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  3. @Kim, you’re not quite right in your statement: in VIC you do NOT require the other side’s authorisation, what you do require is their KNOWLEDGE that a recording is being made.

    So long as you tell them that you intend on recording a conversation and it is in clear terms then you are covered. If they choose not to have a conversation with you AFTER you have told them you intend on recording the conversation that is their prerogative. If they say, “I don’t want it recorded” and you reply, “Well that’s too bad I am still going to record any conversation we have,” and they continue talking with you and you record the conversation you are covered.the Victorian legislation (the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (Vic) (SD Act)), prohibits a person from using any device (including a smartphone) to record a private conversation to which the person is not a party, unless the person has the consent (express or implied) of each of the parties to the conversation to record it.[Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (Vic) s 6(1)].
    The maximum penalty for recording a private conversation without consent is 2 years’ jail and a hefty fine.

    Additionally, even if a private recording is lawfully made, the Surveillance Devices Act prohibits the communication or publication of that recording without the consent of each of the participants to the conversation (with limited exceptions).

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