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Connect Magazine Issue 9 - Communication

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SA pilot program goes national This year, in conjunction with AHPRA, we piloted a program where practitioners receiving their first performance-based notification were offered an Early Clinical Discussion with a view to resolving the notification more expeditiously. Our members were accompanied by a Senior Medical Advisor from Avant. The pilot was so successful AHPRA is now recruiting medical advisors and rolling out the program nationally. Voluntary assisted dying debate Voluntary assisted dying legislation has been passed by both houses of parliament in Victoria and is expected to pass the final stages this year. There will be an 18-month transition period before the legislation comes into effect. Similar legislation was narrowly defeated in the New South Wales Parliament, and in Western Australia a parliamentary committee is undertaking an inquiry into end-of-life choices, and is due to report in August 2018. While much of the public and political debate focuses on the substantive issue, we are also hearing significant concern among the profession about the medico-legal implications for doctors. We see an important role for Avant in advocating for sufficient safeguards in the legislation so doctors are protected whether or not they choose to participate. It is unclear whether attempts to legislate will succeed at this time, but in the event legislation does pass, it is also clear doctors will need training, resources and support if they are to assist patients. Legislative update national and state New privacy laws – are you ready? Healthcare providers will have to inform patients of notifiable data breaches nationally under new amendments to the Privacy Act 1988. Affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner must be notified of breaches that occur from 22 February 2018. Discussions with our National Advocacy Stakeholder Committee confirm that understanding of privacy and security obligations is generally low in the profession. We are developing educational resources to help Avant members and practices comply with the privacy laws. AHPRA wiping the slate clean Reprimands more than five years old will be able to be removed from the national register of practitioners under a new move by AHPRA. From 2 October 2017, doctors will be able to apply to have a reprimand deleted from the public medical register unless a tribunal has set another timeframe. Previously, reprimands were permanently held on public record. Removal is also subject to doctors not receiving a new notification or other sanctions, or having action taken against them within the five years. Victorian patients given greater autonomy over treatment New laws will commence in Victoria next year to give statutory recognition to advance care directives (ACD) and to provide a framework for medical treatment decision-making for people without decision-making capacity. The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 which comes into effect on 12 March 2018, allows competent adults to make, amend or revoke a legally binding ACD and to appoint a medical treatment decision maker or a support person to ensure they receive medical treatment that is consistent with their preferences and values. AHPRA takes action on advertising breaches AHPRA has been writing to doctors and practices where it has identified breaches in advertising. AHPRA has indicated it will take strong action on breaches it considers raise concerns about actual patient harm, target particularly vulnerable patient groups or make misleading claims, such as offering miracle cures. Anyone receiving notification from AHPRA, or who is otherwise unsure what is required, should seek advice promptly. Any breach may constitute unprofessional conduct and/or professional misconduct and can attract fines of $5,000 for practitioners and $10,000 for corporations for each offence. In April, AHPRA outlined its advertising compliance strategy in a document named Responsible Advertising in Healthcare: Keeping People Safe. Prescribing medicinal cannabis Members continue to seek our advice on the requirements for prescribing medicinal cannabis, following its down-scheduling to a Schedule 8 medication last year. With one exception, medicinal cannabis products in Australia are still unapproved therapeutic goods. Doctors prescribing an unapproved therapeutic good must inform patients that the product is not approved and take responsibility for the patient's use of that product. As well as considering whether it is appropriate to prescribe a medicinal cannabis product, doctors need to understand and comply with the legal approval processes required to prescribe medicinal cannabis in their state or territory. 23 Connect | Issue 09 | avant.org.au/publications

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