Key messages from our Annual Report 2018/19

In the 2018/19 financial year, the Medical Council received 2,518 complaints about 2,051 doctors – just under 7% of registered medical practitioners in NSW.

Complaints cover a variety of issues and can be made by not only the patient involved, but also by their family and friends, as well as your colleagues and workplace.

Complaint trends have been consistent over the past few years, with common complaint topics of clinical care, communication and prescribing.

The following resources provide useful information and may help you avoid a complaint.

Clinical care

Many complaints regarding treatment are related to doctors providing inappropriate or inadequate treatment, or missed or delayed diagnoses.

Council has published a variety of articles on clinical care that can be found here.



Communication is an integral part of treating patients. How a doctor communicates with a  patient can make the difference between a satisfied patient and receiving a complaint. Patients need to feel heard, to understand and give informed consent to treatments. Likewise, communication between a patient’s treating doctors can ensure a patient receives the most appropriate treatment plan.

The Medical Board’s Code of Conduct includes helpful tips in the chapter Working with patients.

Additionally, the article from our December  2019 e-newsletter ‘Is poor peer communication putting your patient at risk?’ examines the impact communication between treating practitioners can have on a patient’s overall care. Previous articles on communication can be found on the best practice section of our website.


Complaints about prescribing and medications don’t just come from patients. Other regulators and health professionals must notify the Council if they believe a doctor is prescribing in a way that constitutes ‘a significant departure from accepted professional standards’.

The Council has a range of articles on prescribing, including how to identify doctor shoppers, necessary authorities required and appropriate prescribing of opioids. They can be found on the Good practice section of the website.

RACGP have also produced guidelines on prescribing drugs of dependence.

Download the NSW Medical Council Annual Report  2018/2019 to see the financial year review, trends, and updates on Council’s undertakings.