18 October 2023

AHPRA-related distress and suicide study released

Clinical mental health Political

The long-awaited research paper on distress, self-harm and suicide in physicians involved in an AHPRA investigation has now been published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care.  

Researchers identified 20 cases over four years where practitioners who were either involved in a regulatory process or had recently been involved in a regulatory process self-harmed or took their own life.  

Of those, 12 were confirmed deaths by suicide and four were deemed likely to be suicide.  

None of the 20 practitioners were being investigated for a complaint relating to their clinical performance; six were under investigation for a health impairment, eight were under investigation for professional conduct and the remaining six were under investigation for both.  

Just 12 of the 20 incidents resulted in regulatory action being taken.  

All recommendations made by the researchers have already been accepted by AHPRA

“Poor clinical performance, deliberate harm, or intent to deceive must be identified and addressed in a timely, fair and robust way to address risk to patients,” the researchers wrote.  

“However, this research adds to previous research, which point towards the need for a more nuanced and humane model of regulation, particularly in cases where there is a potentially high risk of distress or harm to practitioners facing a complaint.”  

If this article caused distress or if you are prompted to reach out for support, these services are available:

Doctors4doctors crisis support hotline: 1300 374 377

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36

International Journal for Quality in Health Care 2023, online 26 September 

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