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12 Oct 2023 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Briefs > Page 32

Can a notification be defamation #2?

By Brad Wright

Practitioners need to be aware that in making notifications about other practitioners whether mandatory or otherwise, they need to seriously consider the basis for the notification.

If a notification is not made in good faith, then there can understandably be serious consequences for the notifier for their own registration.

In the recent case of Health Ombudsman v Ling [2023] QCAT 92, the Tribunal found that Dr Ling provided a false and misleading notification in the absence of good faith about a second practitioner, a Dr X who had level 1 supervision imposed in 2014 - which made him practically unemployable - and then had Level 2 conditions imposed after filing an appeal to the tribunal after 2015. The Tribunal found that it appeared Dr Ling had also coordinated another notification by another person.

Tellingly at [4] the Tribunal noted...

"...but on the morning of the third day, after the respondent had been cross-examined for most of the second day, I was told that the parties would be providing joint submissions, in which the respondent would concede that the statements relied on by the applicant as false had been made recklessly and not in good faith. In view of this, the respondent was not cross-examined further and the hearing was adjourned."

Dr Ling was also the subject of an investigation as to his records and practice.

At [11] "Under cross-examination the respondent admitted that he had spoken to this (hospital) official before he made his notification and it appears that the notifications were coordinated... On 29 May 2017 the Queensland Notifications Committee of the Medical Board of Australia decided to take no further action on any of the three notifications. In substance, Dr X was exonerated."

The Tribunal notes the lack of protection as to privilege. Perhaps the Dr X referred to will have a civil claim against Dr Ling. The sanction is yet to be determined.




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