5 July 2019

Fake ‘physios’ can still dodge AHPRA crackdown

AHPRA Medicolegal

While AHPRA’s crackdown on the misleading use of health practitioners’ “protected titles” by untrained or inappropriately trained individuals has been widely lauded, it seems one specialty has slipped through the net.

It seems a loophole in the laws means using the title “physio” can still be used by folk who are not fully qualified, registered physiotherapists.

From July 1, the penalties for anyone prosecuted by AHPRA for falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner include a doubling of fines of up to $60,000, and the prospect of prison time.

But while the use of the title “physiotherapist” or cliaming to provide “physiotherapy” is covered by the national law, the abbreviated term “physio” is not, despite calls by the Australian Physiotherapy Association to have it included.

The use of the term “physio” by non-physiotherapist practitioners posed serious safety and quality risks to the Australian public, the association said in a media release.

“It is ingrained in the Australian vernacular that ‘physio’ is synonymous with physiotherapy, and for patients to be unwittingly subjected to treatment or advice from someone who is not the trusted, safe practitioner they think they are seeing is not only wrong, it’s dangerous,” the association’s national president  Phil Calvert said.

“The tougher penalties announced by AHPRA should spur immediate action by the federal government to make sure this nonsensical loophole is closed once and for all.”