elringtons health law update – bullying and harassment rife in hospitals

By Tom Maling

A survey of emergency department doctors has found that 49.8% of the 2000 doctors surveyed had been victims of bullying, harassment or discrimination while at work.  A quarter of the doctors had experienced these behaviours in the last 6 months.

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine conducted the survey of its members, and published its results in August 2017.  Sadly, the College reported that a significant proportion of its members had been victim of these behaviours more than 20 times.

Every worker has the right to attend work and not be subjected to bullying, harassment and discrimination.  The impact these behaviours can have on a person’s health and wellbeing can be significant.  We act for far too many workers who have received psychological injuries from bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Bullying, harassment and discrimination at Canberra Hospitals has been well published, and this latest survey is further evidence of a widespread problem.  The College noted:

“Recent studies have indicated that high rates of discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual harassment persist in the health sector, despite clear evidence that these behaviours jeopardise patient safety and negatively impact on victims.”

Health practitioners are subject to codes of practice and registration standards.  Consumers and practitioners may make complaints to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (‘AHPRA’) about conduct falling below the standard expected by the public, or where the practitioner may not be a suitable person to practice.  We suggest that bullying, harassment and discrimination behaviour will likely meet these descriptions, and AHPRA has a role to play in eradicating this culture from the health professions and to promote patient safety.

elringtons has helped many workers who have been victim of these behaviours.  We have also assisted people to make complaints to AHPRA about health practitioners.  Please do not hesitate to contact us to tell us about your experiences and to see how we may help.

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For more information or to make an appointment in either our Canberra or Queanbeyan office:

p: +61 2 6206 1300 | e:  Info@elringtons.com.au