CODE OF CONDUCT

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR GENERAL HEALTH SERVICES

The code obligations below are set out in Schedule 2 of the Health Complaints Act 2016 and represent the
minimum legal standards that all general health service providers in Victoria must comply with. General health
service providers are those not regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

1 General health service providers to provide services
in a safe and ethical manner
(1) A general health service provider must provide general
health services in a safe and ethical manner.
(2) Without limiting subclause (1), general health service
providers must comply with the following:
(a) a general health service provider must maintain the
necessary competence in the provider’s field of
practice;
(b) a general health service provider must not provide a
health service of a type that is outside the provider’s
experience or training, or provide services that the
provider is not qualified to provide;
(c) a general health service provider must only prescribe
or recommend treatments or appliances that serve the
needs of clients;
(d) a general health service provider must recognise
the limitations of the treatment the provider can
provide and refer clients to other competent health

service providers in appropriate circumstances;
(e) a general health service provider must recommend to
clients that additional opinions and services be sought,
where appropriate;
(f) a general health service provider must assist a client to
find other appropriate health care services, if required
and practicable;
(g) a general health service provider must encourage
clients to inform their treating medical practitioner
(if any) of the treatments or care being provided;
(h) a general health service provider must have a sound
understanding of any possible adverse interactions
between the therapies and treatments being provided
or prescribed and any other medications or treatments,
whether prescribed or not, that the provider is, or
should be, aware that a client is taking or receiving,
and advise the client of these interactions;
(i) a general health service provider must provide general
health services in a manner that is culturally sensitive
to the needs of the provider’s clients.
2 General health service providers to obtain consent
Prior to commencing a treatment or service, a general health
service provider must ensure that consent appropriate
to that treatment or service has been obtained and complies
with the laws applying in Victoria.
3 Appropriate conduct in relation to treatment advice
(1) A general health service provider must accept the right
of the provider’s clients to make informed choices in
relation to the health services the client seeks or receives.
(2) A general health service provider must not attempt to
dissuade a client from seeking or continuing medical
treatment.
(3) A general health service provider must communicate and
co-operate with colleagues and other health service
providers and agencies in the best interests of their clients.

4 General health service providers to report concerns
about the conduct of other health service providers
A general health service provider who, in the course of
providing treatment or care, forms the reasonable belief
that another health service provider has placed or is placing
clients at serious risk of harm must refer the matter to the
Commissioner.
5 General health service providers to take appropriate
action in response to adverse events
(1) A general health service provider must take appropriate
and timely measures to minimise harm to clients when
an adverse event occurs in the course of providing
treatment or care.
(2) Without limiting subclause (1), a general health service
provider must:
(a) ensure that appropriate first aid is available to deal
with any adverse event; and
(b) obtain appropriate emergency assistance in the event
of any serious adverse event; and
(c) promptly disclose the adverse event to the client and
take appropriate remedial steps to reduce the risk of
recurrence; and
(d) report the adverse event to the relevant authority,
where appropriate.
6 General health service providers to adopt standard
precautions for infection control
(1) A general health service provider must adopt standard
precautions for the control of infection in the course of
providing treatment or care.
(2) Without limiting subclause (1), a general health service
provider who carries out skin penetration or other invasive
procedures must comply with the laws applying in Victoria.
7 General health service providers diagnosed with
infectious medical conditions
(1) A general health service provider who has been diagnosed
with a medical condition that can be passed on to clients
must practise in a manner that does not put clients at risk.
(2) Without limiting subclause (1), a general health service
provider who has been diagnosed with a medical condition
that can be passed on to clients must take and follow
advice from a suitably qualified registered health practitioner
on the necessary steps to be taken to modify the provider’s
practice to avoid the possibility of transmitting that condition
to clients.
8 General health service providers not to make claims to
cure certain serious illnesses
(1) A general health service provider must not claim or
represent that the provider is qualified, able or willing
to cure cancer or other terminal illnesses.
(2) A general health service provider who claims to be able to
treat or alleviate the symptoms of cancer or other terminal
illnesses must be able to substantiate such claims.

9 General health service providers not to misinform their clients
(1) A general health service provider must not engage in any form of misinformation or misrepresentation in relation to the products or services the provider provides or the qualifications, training or professional affiliations the provider holds.
(2) Without limiting subclause (1):
(a) a general health service provider must not use the provider’s possession of a particular qualification to mislead or deceive clients or the public as to the provider’s competence in a field of practice or ability to provide treatment; and
(b) a general health service provider must provide truthful information as to the provider’s qualifications, training or professional affiliations; and
(c) a general health service provider must not make claims either directly to clients or in advertising or promotional materials about the efficacy of treatment or services the provider provides if those claims cannot be substantiated.
10 General health service providers not to practise under
the influence of alcohol or unlawful substances
(1) A general health service provider must not provide treatment or care to clients while under the influence of alcohol or unlawful substances. (2) A general health service provider who is taking prescribed medication must obtain advice from the prescribing health practitioner or dispensing pharmacist on the impact of the medication on the provider’s ability to practise and must refrain from treating or caring for clients in circumstances where the provider’s capacity is or may be impaired.
11 General health service providers with certain mental or physical impairment
(1) A general health service provider must not provide treatment or care to clients while suffering from a physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including an addiction to alcohol or a drug, whether or not prescribed) that places or is likely to place clients at risk of harm.
(2) Without limiting subclause (1), if a general health service provider has a mental or physical impairment that could place clients at risk, the general health service provider must seek advice from a suitably qualified health practitioner to determine whether, and in what ways, the provider should modify the provider’s practice, including stopping practice if necessary.
12 General health service providers not to financially
exploit clients
(1) A general health service provider must not financially exploit the provider’s clients. (2) Without limiting subclause (1): (a) a general health service provider must only provide services or treatments to clients that are designed to maintain or improve clients’ health or wellbeing; and
(b) a general health service provider must not accept or offer financial inducements or gifts as a part of client referral arrangements with other health service providers; and (c) a general health service provider must not ask clients to give, lend or bequeath money or gifts that will benefit the general health service provider directly or indirectly.

13 General health service providers not to engage in sexual misconduct

(1) A general health service provider must not engage in behaviour of a sexual or close personal nature with a client. (2) A general health service provider must not engage in a sexual or other inappropriate close personal, physical or emotional relationship with a client.

(3) A general health service provider should ensure that a reasonable period of time has elapsed since the conclusion of the therapeutic relationship before engaging in a sexual relationship with a client.
14 General health service providers to comply with
relevant privacy laws

A general health service provider must comply with the relevant privacy laws that apply to clients’ health information, including:

(a) the Health Records Act 2001; and

(b) the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014; and

(c) the Privacy Act 1988 of the Commonwealth.
15 General health service providers to keep appropriate records

(1) A general health service provider must maintain accurate, legible and up-to-date clinical records for each client consultation and ensure that these are held securely and not subject to unauthorised access.

(2) A general health service provider must take necessary steps to facilitate clients’ access to information contained in their health records if requested.

(3) A general health service provider must facilitate the transfer of a client’s health record in a timely manner when requested to do so by the client or the client’s legal representative.
16 General health service providers to be covered by appropriate insurance

A general health service provider should ensure that appropriate indemnity insurance arrangements are in place in relation to the provider’s practice.
17 General health service providers to provide access to code of conduct and other information

(1) A general health service provider must bring each of the following documents to the attention of, or make available a copy of each of the following documents to, the clients of the general health service provider when providing or offering to provide a general health service:

(a) a copy of this code of conduct;

(b) a document that gives information about the way in which clients may make a complaint to the Commissioner.

(2) Copies of these documents must be made available in a manner that makes them easily accessible to clients.


To make a complaint about any Victorian health service
provider, contact the Health Complaints Commissioner:
hcc.vic.gov.au
1300 582 113