Today’s question comes from a registered paramedic who was
… asked about the (assumed) requirement for paramedics, as registered health care professionals, to wear name tags so that patients are able to look them up on the register if they desire. I had assumed that this requirement existed. However, when I looked into it further, and discussed it with others, we were unable to locate a primary source that clearly articulated such a requirement.
Our discussion included the following:
- Access to the name of register health practitioner is one of the foundation values of the National Law is the public register (s225)
- It is consistent with almost all charters of patient rights
- The second reading speech for the National Law noted:
- Each national board will be required, in conjunction with the national agency, to keep a public national register of health practitioners currently registered by that board and a public national register of practitioners who were registered by the board but whose registration has been cancelled by an adjudication body (clause 222). National boards for a health profession for which specialist recognition operates must keep similar registers for specialist health practitioners (clause 223). The information that must be included in such a register is specified in clause 225, and includes the suburb and postcode of the practitioner’s principal place of address, the type of registration the practitioner holds and information about any conditions that have been imposed on the practitioner’s registration. These registers will be available at the national agency for inspection, free of charge, by members of the public and will also be published on the agency’s website (clause 228).
- Clause 226 sets out a number of mechanisms that will ensure that the public registers do not unreasonably limit the right of health practitioners to information privacy. Recognising that publishing information about a practitioner could place some individuals at risk because of their personal circumstances, a national board may decide not to record information about a practitioner in a register if a practitioner requests that the information not be published and the board reasonably believes that the inclusion of the information in the register would present a serious risk to the health or safety of the practitioner (clause 222(3)). A national board may also decide not to include information about a condition or undertaking relating to a practitioner’s impairment if it is necessary to protect the practitioner’s privacy and there is no overriding public interest for the conditions or the details of the undertaking to be published./
- Similarly, the national board may decide to remove information that discloses a registered health practitioner has been reprimanded if it considers that is no longer necessary or appropriate for the information to be recorded on the register. Division 3 of part 10 does not limit a person’s right to privacy because it does not authorise an interference that is unlawful or arbitrary. This is because any interference serves the legitimate purpose of protecting the public and the clauses adequately specify the circumstances in which these interferences may occur.
- There is exemption to s28 of the UN Charter of Human Rights re rights to privacy if it is legislated – which is in the National Law
- There is nothing expressed in the code but I suppose it could be implied by principles around patient practitioner relationships and best practice
- There is also the Health care provider identification (data set specification)
- The scope of these data elements includes identification of individual and organisation health care providers. The data elements also allow for identification of an individual in a health care organisation. The definition of health care provider is:
- ‘any person or organisation who is involved in or associated with the delivery of healthcare to a client, or caring for client wellbeing’.
- The data elements have been defined to enable a common, best practice approach to the way data are captured and stored, to ensure that records relating to a provider will be associated with that individual and/or organisation and no other. The definitions are proposed for clinical and administrative data management purposes.
- The ability to positively identify health care providers and locate their relevant details is an important support to the provision of speedy, safe, high quality, comprehensive and efficient health care. https://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/356020
- In the 3.2 partnering and 3.3 communication section of the code of conduct (and also mentioned in the capabilities for paramedics) is an expectation on the practitioner to work with the patient, to provide clear, honest, accurate and respectful information, and provide full disclosure, so that the consumer can be involved in the decision making, choices and options, including risks and benefits, available to them in as far as they choose to be involved. It would be implied that identifying yourself to a patient would be necessary to do this, and necessary for them to verify your bonafides.
Are you able to shed any further light on this issue? Is there a requirement for paramedic to wear name tags with their full name (as appears on the register of practitioners) displayed?
I love it when my correspondent has done all the research for me.
As a general rule, an individual can do anything they want unless there is a law that says they cannot; and the flip side of that is you don’t have to do anything unless there is a law that says you do. There is no law that says you have to wear a name badge with your full name on it even though as a registered paramedic your details are available on the Register of practitioners – see https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registers-of-Practitioners.aspx.
What I would think is essential is that patients are able to identify who their treating paramedic is. Paramedicine is different to say medicine. With private medicine a person may be thinking of engaging the services of a doctor and may want to check their registration before consulting the doctor. Paramedicine (at this stage) doesn’t work that way. People come into contact with a paramedic usually in response to an emergency call or with the private profession the paramedic may be employed or engaged by their employer and they don’t really have a choice who they receive paramedic services from. There is therefore less need to have those details available ‘up front’. But employers and contractors may want to identify that a person is indeed a paramedic and after treatment a person may want to confirm that the person who treated them was a paramedic and may want to raise matters with the Board which would necessarily mean they have to identify the paramedic.
This can be done of course by, for example, a patient contacting the service that employed the paramedic and asking them to identify the paramedic concerned with their care. Anything that could assist in that process would be helpful. I recall that, in the late 1980’s when I was in ambulance, I wore a name badge with my first name and my payroll number. I suppose today’s paramedics could wear a badge with their first name and their registration number or some other identifying feature. If the patient or a person responsible for the patient asked, the paramedic would have to give their name.
It would be, I would think, good practice to have a name badge on as patients and their loved ones may not take in a paramedic’s name as treatment is being provided and it will be better for everyone if they can refer to the paramedic by name. It is impossible to imagine that one can have a proper professional relationship if the patient doesn’t know the paramedics name. The factors identified by my correspondent set out very good reasons why that name badge should have the paramedics full name. But in the absence of any ‘primary source that clearly articulated such a requirement’ it is not compulsory. Paramedics should be aware, however, that they do not have a right to be anonymous. Any person who they treat or come into contact with in a professional setting, ultimately has a right to know who treated them and to be able to confirm via the Register that the person who did treat them, or who held him or herself out as a paramedic, is a paramedic in good standing. Facilitating that information sharing and making sure patients and other professional contacts know your full name would strike me as being consistent with good practice but like my correspondent I can’t see that it is actually prescribed as a requirement.