Table 1

Jurisdiction and functions of key agencies with responsibility for medico-legal matters in Australia

Civil courtsHealth complaints commissionsMedical Board of Australia
Cases handled▸ Negligence claims▸ Patient complaints▸ Conduct, competence, or health matters
Jurisdictional focus▸ Substandard care causing patient harm▸ Low-quality care ▸ Patient dissatisfaction with care▸ Professional misconduct ▸ Performance or competence falling below professional standards ▸ Ill-health, substance misuse, or impairment
Procedures used▸ Out-of-court negotiation ▸ Alternative forms of dispute resolution (eg, mediation, arbitration) ▸ Trials before judges▸ Early resolution ▸ Conciliation ▸ Investigation▸ Review of doctor's competence or health status ▸ Investigation ▸ Disciplinary charges
Remedies▸ Monetary damages▸ Communication (eg, facilitate apology or explanation) ▸ Restoration (eg, facilitate provision of further treatment, fee forgiveness, monetary settlement) ▸ Correction (eg, recommend system change)▸ Correction (eg, requirement that practitioner undergo education, rehabilitation, monitoring etc) ▸ Sanction (eg, suspension or revocation of practice licence*)
  • *Typically, such sanctions are imposed by external administrative tribunals in proceedings initiated by the Medical Board of Australia.