Today’s correspondent raises the issue of:
Someone holding a Diploma of Paramedical Science, has applied for Paramedic registration, prior to December 2018, based on the fact that their application is still in process, they are still using the title of Paramedic. It’s nearly been 10 months since the original application has been logged and it appears there is no way for a current organisation to check the status of such an application.
Should a medical incident occur, whereby this person performs below the expected level of a registered paramedic, and it leads to negative consequences for a patient, would there be any implication for the company they currently work for as a paramedic?
Since 1 December 2018, only a person registered as a paramedic can use the title ‘paramedic’ but, as my correspondent has noted, when paramedic registration was introduced there was a transition period. As a result any person who applied for registration before 1 December 2018 is entitled to use the title until their application is finalised (see Paramedicine Board, Fact sheet: Using the title ‘paramedic’ after 1 December 2018 (9 April 2019)).
The person the subject of my correspondent’s question is entitled to use the title paramedic but that does not, yet, define the scope of practice of the reasonable ‘paramedic’. The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law is about protection of title, not about scope of practice. With many people obtaining registration under the grandparenting clauses there will be many paramedics with qualifications and experience quite different from a new graduate seeking registration. Over time, as the profession is filled with graduates from University courses approved by the Paramedicine Board there will develop an identifiable minimum level of competence of registered paramedics but that is not yet the case.
What follows is that this person is entitled to call themselves a paramedic but what might be reasonably expected of them will depend on all the circumstances including their training. If, taking all that into account they were to provide care to a patient that was not ‘reasonable in all the circumstances’, or to put that as my correspondent did, they failed to provide the care that could be expected of a reasonable paramedic with similar training in the circumstances, and if that contributed to an adverse outcome for the patient, then the patient could sue in negligence. If the patient did sue the employer would be vicariously liable for the negligence of its employee.
The question was ‘Should a medical incident occur, whereby this person performs below the expected level of a registered paramedic, and it leads to negative consequences for a patient, would there be any implication for the company they currently work for as a paramedic?’ and the answer is ‘yes, they company would be vicariously liable’.