Notifications to regulatory authorities regarding sexual misconduct against nurses and midwives are rare, but continue to be the cause of concern, according to a recent University of Melbourne study.
The report, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, studied notifications to Ahpra and state regulatory authorities regarding sexual misconduct between 2011-2016. It found that 1167 medical professionals registered with Ahpra received notifications against them for alleged sexual misconduct in this period. This equated to 0.2% of all medical professionals in Australia.
Of these, 19.2% were registered as nurses and midwives, accounting for 0.05% of the medical workforce. This represents a smaller share of notifications than nurses and midwives occupy in the health workforce.
The research found that male practitioners were more likely to receive notifications against them, accounting for 87.7% of notifications.
There was also a higher proportion of notifications from rural and regional areas as compared to metropolitan areas, when analysed in relation to the number of health professionals registered in the two areas.
The authors noted that while notifications were rare, sexual misconduct in health continued to have “serious consequences for patients, practitioners, and the community”.
“Further efforts are needed to prevent sexual misconduct in health care and to ensure thorough investigation of alleged misconduct,” the report concluded.
A total of 45,517 notifications were made to Ahpra and state regulatory authorities in the 2011-2016 period, affecting 4.6% of the health workforce.