New Reportable Incidents Procedures in NSW


New South Wales has introduced new reportable incident review procedures for dealing with incidents involving public health services.

Health Legislation Amendment Act 2018 No.2 (NSW)

This article applies to public health services.

Relevant parts of the Health Legislation Amendment Act 2018 No.2 (NSW) (the Amending Act) commenced on 14 December 2020 and has amended the Health Administration Act 1982 (NSW) (the Act), establishing new reportable incident review procedures for dealing with incidents involving relevant health services.

Reportable incidents

The Amending Act has introduced new Part 2A into the Act (sections 21A to 21S) to the Act, which applies to incidents involving the provision of health services:

  • by a local health district, in which case the relevant health services organisation in respect of the incident is the local health district;
  • by a statutory health corporation prescribed by the regulations, in which case the relevant health services organisation in respect of the incident is the statutory health corporation;
  • by an affiliated health organisation prescribed by the regulations, in which case the relevant health services organisation in respect of the incident is the affiliated health organisation;
  • under Chapter 5A (Ambulance services) of the Health Services Act 1997 (NSW) or the provision of a service under Part 1A of Chapter 10 of that Act, in which case the relevant health services organisation in respect of the incident is the Health Secretary.

In the event that an incident is reported to a health services organisation, the health services organisation is required under the new section 21C of the Act, to appoint one or more assessors to carry out a preliminary risk assessment of the incident if:

  • the organisation is of the opinion that the incident is (or may be) a reportable incident; or
  • the incident is not a reportable incident but may be the result of a serious systemic problem and the organisation is of the opinion that a preliminary risk assessment of the incident should be carried out.

Section 21A provides that a reportable incident is an incident of a type prescribed by the regulations or set out in a document adopted by the regulations. For the purposes of this definition, the Health Administration Regulation 2020 (NSW) has prescribed that reportable incident to be an incident of a type set out in Appendix D of the Incident Management Policy, published in the Gazette on 30 October 2020.

Sections 21D and 21E set out several obligations on assessors. Section 21D of the Act provides that an assessor is required to carry out a risk assessment of the incident, and give written advice to the health services organisation to assist in their understanding of the events comprising the incident, and to set out the measures required to manage the incident and to remove or mitigate any associated risk. In addition, new section 21E requires an assessor to immediately advise the relevant health services organisation if the assessor is of the opinion that the incident raises matters that indicate a problem giving rise to a risk of serious or imminent harm to a person.

Serious adverse event reviews

In the event that the incident is a reportable incident or, (if not a reportable incident, may be the result of a serious systemic problem and the relevant health service is of the opinion that a serious adverse event review of the incident should be carried out), the relevant health service must appoint a serious adverse event review team to carry out a serious adverse event review of the incident in accordance with section 21G of the Act. Subscribers should note that the relevant health services organisation is required to keep a written record of the persons appointed to the serious adverse event review team and must ensure that the appointed persons can properly carry out a serious adverse event review of the incident.

On completion of a serious adverse event review of an incident, the serious adverse event review team is required to provide a written report to the health services organisation detailing the incident, how it occurred, factors causing or contributing to the incident, and any procedures, practices or systems that could be reviewed (areas for review findings) for the purposes of a recommendations report.

Subscribers should be aware that the serious adverse event review team is required to immediately advise the relevant health services organisation if it forms the opinion that the incident raises matters that indicate a problem giving rise to a risk of serious or imminent harm to a person. In addition, if the serious adverse event team forms the opinion that the incident raises matters that may involve a performance or impairment issue (other than unsatisfactory professional performance) in relation to a health practitioner, the serious adverse event review team is required to advise the relevant health services organisation as soon as practicable of that fact. The written advice must disclose the identity of the health practitioner to whom the notification relates and the nature of the concern, and must specify whether the notification relates to:

  • professional misconduct, unsatisfactory professional conduct or performance by the health practitioner; or
  • the health practitioner suffering from an impairment.

Disclosure of information

Finally, the Amending Act has introduced several provisions limiting the circumstances in which information relating to relevant incidents can be disclosed, including new section 21F, which provides that a relevant health services organisation must take reasonable steps to not disclose information identifying a person (other than a patient involved in the incident) when providing information to a patient involved in the incident. In addition, new section 21M provides that an advice or report delivered by a serious adverse event review team must not disclose the name, address of an individual who is a provider or recipient of services unless the individual has consented in writing to that disclosure, or (as far as is practicable) any other material that identifies or may lead to the identification of such an individual.

Conclusion

Public Health Services should be aware of the introduction of new procedures for dealing with reportable incidents and to protect information arising from reviews of those incidents. Moreover, Public Health Services should update relevant policies and procedures to reflect these new changes.

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au