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The regulation of health professionals

Thomson Reuters (Australia/NZ)
Publication Date
  • 189900 Other Law And Legal Studies
  • Health Professional Regulation
  • Self-Regulation
  • Law


This chapter is about the role of law in the management of the health workforce in Australia. Health professionals play an important role in the health system as the providers of treatment and care — without health professionals health systems would not function. The relationship between health professionals and patients has always been complex and is often subject to some form of regulation by the state. The first surviving written reference to such legal regulation dates from 1795-1750 BCE when the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi stated: “If a physician make a large incision with the operating knife, and kill him, or open a tumor with the operating knife, and cut out the eye, his hands shall be cut off.” Alexander the Great recommended the crucifixion of health professionals who killed their patients. Fortunately, the law in Australia prescribes lesser penalties for erring health professionals, but at the heart of modern regulation are similar concerns to those that underpinned the ancient Babylonian Code — to create conditions to ensure the safety of patients and the provision of quality services by health professionals.

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