A Summary Guide to the Doctors’ Code of Conduct in Australia

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The Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia was developed by a working party of the Australian Medical Council on behalf of the Australian Medical Board.

The code, entitled Good Medical Practice, sets out the expectations of doctors who are registered to practice medicine in Australia, including the characteristic principles of good medical practice.

The code aligns with the values outlined in the Australian Medical Association’s Code of Ethics and the International Code of Medical Ethics issues by the World Medical Association.


Doctors practicing in Australia are expected to be familiar with the Good Medical Practice code and apply the principles contained within it.

A summary of the doctors’ code of conduct is as follows:

  1. The first section of the code – providing good care – deals with patient care, decision making being the shared responsibility of doctor and patient, and treatment in emergencies.
  2. Working with patients is an extensive section which has guidelines around the doctor-patient relationship, effective communication, privacy and confidentiality, informed consent, children and teenagers, culturally sensitive practice, patients with additional needs, relatives and carers, adverse events, handling complaints, end of life care, professional and personal relationships, and closing a practice.
  3. Aspect of working with other healthcare professionals covers good relationships with medical colleagues including professional respect, referrals and handover, teamwork, and care coordination.
  4. Working within the healthcare system outlines wise use of resources, advocating for the health and wellbeing of patients, and understanding the principles of public health including disease prevention, education and screening.
  5. The risk management section pertains to understanding and applying the key principles of risk minimisation, as well as considering the welfare of patients if a doctor is underperforming or attempting to perform outside their scope of skills.
  6. Maintaining professional performance provides guidelines around continuing professional development and keeping skills up to date.
  7. Professional behaviour is another extensive section which outlines professional boundaries and reporting obligations, maintaining clear and accurate medical records, and meeting medico-legal, insurance and other assessments. This section also includes medical reports, certificates, and providing evidence to third parties as well as providing accurate, truthful and verifiable information about medical qualifications, responsibilities and rights relating to investigation of practice, conflicts of interest, and financial and commercial dealings.
  8. Section nine of the code relates to ensuring doctors’ health through maintenance of health and well-being, and also assisting colleagues to maintain good health for good medical practice.
  9. The teaching, supervising and assessing section provides guidelines around appropriate learning opportunities for medical students as well as assessing colleagues.
  10. The final section of the code deals with undertaking research which is governed by guidelines in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992. It is expected that doctors involved in research be familiar with those guidelines.

The full doctors’ code of conduct can be obtained via the websites of the Australian Medical Board, the Australian Medical Council, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.