Today’s question involves holding out as a paramedic. My correspondent is
… currently working on a film set with another individual who has been representing themselves as a paramedic – both through being paid to be one and wearing clothing with the title paramedic displayed. I had known of this individual previously through others as a Paramedic working for many years prior to registration. This person at time of writing however is not registered and I have good authority to believe he has not lodged in accordance with the provisions contained within the Act.
There have been a number of occasions at which I have been concerned about the fact that this individual is a.) holding themselves out to be a paramedic and b.) providing treatment that would fall reasonably within a paramedic’s scope of practice but superior to that of a First Aider.
At some point after I raised my concerns about him holding out to be a paramedic, he has ceased the wearing of said insignia and is now being employed as a “medic”. In this capacity he is still providing the same level of medical care as was previously, which includes administering medications. To the best of my knowledge he does not have a TGA poisons licence and is not operating in accordance with another companies as he is a sole contractor.
My questions are in regard to whether there are any mandating reporting obligations for holding out offences.
To repeat what has been said often before, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law works via title protection, not scope of practice. Section 113(1) says:
A person must not knowingly or recklessly—
(a) take or use a title in the Table to this section, in a way that could be reasonably expected to induce a belief the person is registered under this Law in the health profession listed beside the title in the Table, unless the person is registered in the profession, or
(b) take or use a prescribed title for a health profession, in a way that could be reasonably expected to induce a belief the person is registered under this Law in the profession, unless the person is registered in the profession.
For paramedicine the relevant ‘title’ is paramedic. If this person is ‘wearing clothing with the title paramedic displayed’ then I would suggest that at least prima facie an offence is being committed. But if he has ‘ceased the wearing of said insignia and is now being employed as a “medic”’ then there is no offence.
There is no paramedic scope of practice. Anyone can give any treatment that they know how to give. ‘[P]roviding treatment that would fall reasonably within a paramedic’s scope of practice but superior to that of a First Aider’ is not an offence under the National Law.
There are no relevant mandatory reporting obligations. A health professional has to report another health professional or him or herself (see s 140). Just because there are no mandatory obligations does not mean, however, reports cannot be made.
If you believe a person:
- is holding themselves out to be a paramedic contrary to s 113 a complaint could be made to the Paramedicine Board.
- is unlawfully accessing, possessing, supply or administering scheduled drugs, make a complaint to the relevant health department.
- who is not a registered health practitioner is putting patient safety at risk make a complaint to the relevant health department or health complaints authority particularly in those jurisdictions (eg NSW and SA) that have a code of conduct for unregistered health practitioners.