Health Complaints and Practitioner Regulation: Justice, Protection or Prevention?

Griffith Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 65-88, 2017

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 17/58

36 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2017 Last revised: 26 Aug 2017

See all articles by Terry Carney AO

Terry Carney AO

The University of Sydney Law School

Merrilyn Walton

The University of Sydney - School of Public Health

Mary Chiarella

The University of Sydney - Sydney Nursing School

Patrick Kelly

The University of Sydney - School of Public Health

Date Written: July 19, 2017

Abstract

This article reviews the objectives pursued by health complaints entities (HCEs), how they mesh with bodies concerned with the regulation of health practitioners, and how these functions map against those of administrative review and theories of consumer accountability. We show that HCEs pursue multiple and diverse objectives shared by ‘hybrid’ institutions dealing with complex ‘polycentric’ disputes or dynamic circumstances, constituting one part of a network or meta-regulatory web of regulatory and grievance agencies. We suggest that these health entities, which represent an atypical form of complaint handling (differing from administrative merits review) have associated trade-offs between objectives and overall system complexity that may have regulatory merit, but not be readily understood by health consumers. The article cautions that system-level perspectives (i.e. regulatory theory objectives) should not detract unduly from accountability and redress for individual complaints (complaints-resolution theory). We conclude that further empirical research is needed into: the balance between objectives of a complainant’s focus (justice), professional regulation (prevention) and public risk management (protection) and the optimal organisational linkages between complaints management and professional regulation.

Keywords: health complaints, complaint management, models of decision-making, review objectives

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Carney AO, Terry and Walton, Merrilyn and Chiarella, Mary and Kelly, Patrick, Health Complaints and Practitioner Regulation: Justice, Protection or Prevention? (July 19, 2017). Griffith Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 65-88, 2017, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 17/58, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3005691

Terry Carney AO (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Merrilyn Walton

The University of Sydney - School of Public Health ( email )

The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Mary Chiarella

The University of Sydney - Sydney Nursing School ( email )

88 Mallett Street
Camperdown, NSW 2050
Australia

Patrick Kelly

The University of Sydney - School of Public Health ( email )

The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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