The Medical Board has launched its discussion paper on revalidation and seeks doctor feedback.

At some point on August 16, the Medical Board launched its discussion paper on revalidation urging medical practitioners to offer their feedback online. It gave the media organisations just enough time to formulate the next morning’s headlines such as “Shonky doctors who put patients at risk face Medical Board crackdown” and “Medical Board of Australia’s proposal to root out underperforming doctors”.

At precisely 10.55am EST on August 17, the feedback started flowing in. The process is open to everyone and you can leave your name or post anonymously until November 30. You just can’t be obscene as the site is moderated, though it hasn’t stopped a cascade of forthright views.

You may see names of doctors you might know but you won’t read anything you haven’t read before or many endorsements of the plans. We did see one from some poor lone voice from the general public who was challenged by a medico to confess he was a stooge of AHPRA. The quick comeback by John or Jo Doe was to suggest they could be the doctor’s patient!

Apart from the comment’s general entertainment factor, there is much to ponder. The discussion paper is well laid out and there seems to be a genuine attempt to formulate a revalidation process that will not be too cumbersome, will use systems already in place and engage the ‘stakeholders’. However, there is no suggestion minds will be changed on the core need for revalidation.

The AMA president Dr Michael Gannon told the SMH the medical profession welcomed the board’s “modest approach” to the issue. “I don’t think there’s a great deal of evidence that the professional development system is broken,” he said.

The sticking point is and always will be identifying at-risk doctors. On this issue the Expert Advisory Group has gone out on a limb. It has identified the subset of practitioners based on these risk factors:

  •                      age (from 35 years, increasing into middle and older age)
  •                      male gender
  •                      number of prior complaints, and
  •                      time since last prior complaint.

Additional individual risk factors found in certain studies include:

  •                      primary medical qualification acquired in some countries of origin
  •                      specialty
  •                      lack of response to feedback
  •                      unrecognised cognitive impairment
  •                      practising in isolation from peers or outside an organisation’s structured clinical governance system
  •                      low levels of high quality CPD activities, and
  •                      change in scope of practice.

Give your concerns voice at www.medicalboard.gov.au/News/Current-Consultations.aspx by November 30.


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