Regulation of healthcare and medical imaging in Australia: A narrative review of the evolution, function and impact on professional behaviours

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Objectives: This review explores the literature about the status and influence of statutory regulation in healthcare with a focus on medical imaging. It summarises the status of regulation in Australia for radiographers and sonographers, with brief reference to the global situation. The role of regulation is explored in terms of its evolution, function and effect on professional behaviours. Key findings: Reports of medical errors, sentinel events and professional misconduct in healthcare have raised concern about how health care professionals are regulated. Patient-centric healthcare delivery has changed how people interact with healthcare, contributing to the development of statutory regulation for many healthcare professions. In Australia, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (The National Law) 2009, established the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) in order to practice. Not all health care professions are included in the scheme. In medical imaging, radiographers are included but sonographers are a notable exception. Regulation is designed to positively influence practitioners' professional behaviours. The available evidence however is limited, but suggests that under certain circumstances, it can negatively impact practitioners’ professional behaviours. Conclusion: Statutory regulation has been implemented to address serious issues highlighted in reports of medical errors and professional misconduct, but it may have unintended consequences on the professional behaviours of practitioners. Limited research means the relationship between statutory regulation of healthcare practitioners and its impact upon professional behaviours remains unclear. Implications for practice: If statutory regulation of healthcare professionals is to achieve its aim of protecting the public, it is imperative that we understand the impact that it has on professional behaviours. This review highlights that it can negatively impact professional behaviours which may be detrimental to patient's safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-942
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Fitness to practice
  • Professionalism
  • Radiography
  • Regulation
  • Statutory
  • Ultrasound

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