AHPRA investigation discontinued and physiotherapist’s registration re-instated7 April 2015 | Health Sector
Barry.Nilsson. has recently achieved an excellent result for a physiotherapist who was the subject of an investigation by AHPRA, and had also lost his registration.
In July 2009, the Physiotherapy Board of Queensland imposed conditions upon the physiotherapist’s registration after a complaint was made against him by a female patient. As a result of the complaint, disciplinary proceedings were commenced against him and the matter was referred to QCAT.
Pending the outcome of the QCAT proceedings (the matter proceeded to a hearing in May 2013 and QCAT delivered its decision in September 2014), the physiotherapist, for the next 4 years, continued to work under the conditions imposed on his registration, which required him to have a female chaperone present when treating female patients (and to keep record of the chaperones’ names in the patients’ clinical records and in a chaperone register).
In late 2013, AHPRA removed the physiotherapist’s name from the National Register, after he had allegedly failed to engage with AHPRA compliance officers and produce his patient records and chaperone register to AHPRA. As a result of losing his registration, the physiotherapist was no longer able to practice and was forced to resign from his employment. Around the same time, a notification was made to AHPRA that the physiotherapist (whilst still registered) had breached the conditions imposed upon his registration and subsequently, AHPRA launched an investigation.
Barry.Nilsson. represented the physiotherapist in respect of both the investigation, and in attempting to have his registration reinstated. During this time, QCAT delivered its decision in respect of the original complaint. It found that the allegations made by the female patient were unsubstantiated and, accordingly it dismissed the complaint.
Barry.Nilsson. made lengthy submissions to AHPRA, in which we argued that there was no evidence to prove that the physiotherapist had breached the conditions imposed on his registration, bar for one isolated incident (to which he had already admitted), which we demonstrated had occurred as a result of a lack of support from his workplace. We submitted that the physiotherapist had willingly engaged with AHPRA compliance officers and had attempted to produce patient records and the chaperone register when requested, but had encountered difficulties in accessing such documents in circumstances where the patient records were held by his employer.
We argued that the physiotherapist had worked diligently to comply with conditions imposed on his registration as a result of a complaint, which more than 5 years later, was found by QCAT to be unsubstantiated.
Ultimately, we were successful in having both the investigation discontinued and the physiotherapist’s registration reinstated, with no conditions imposed. AHPRA issued a caution in respect of the one incident in which he had breached his conditions, however, AHPRA chose not to record the caution on the National Register.
Article by partner Richard Leahy and solicitor Jessica Devane.