Conduct & professionalism

The standards covering conduct and professionalism set out the behaviour the Council expects of doctors. These include integrity, honesty, respect, and trust. Doctors have an ethical responsibility to ensure patient safety at all times.

These standards deal with concerns about a colleague's conduct or competence, the responsibilities that doctors in management roles have, the importance of professional conduct in a healthcare team, and the boundaries that must exist between doctors and patients. They also cover situations where there may be a conflict of interest or if a doctor's objectivity might be compromised.

  • Concerns about another doctor

    All doctors have a duty to act on their concerns about another doctor, but doctors in management roles have an extra responsibility to ensure that there are appropriate reporting procedures in place, and these procedures are known to staff who may need to use them. This statement provides guidance for doctors who are concerned about a medical colleague's conduct, performance, competence or health, and provides suggestions on what to do and who to approach.

  • Medical assessments for third parties

    Doctors are sometimes asked by a third party (such as an insurance company or ACC) to conduct medical assessments of patients. This statement explains the role of the assessing doctor and the standard of care expected of them within an assessing relationship.

  • Commercial organisations - doctors' responsibilities

    Health-related commercial organisations share some common goals with doctors: they seek to prevent, control, cure and manage diseases, or physical and mental conditions, and may conduct research to improve and advance health care. However, health-related commercial organisations can also have different and potentially conflicting goals in that generating a profit is often a principal goal whereas a doctor’s primary concern must always be the care of patients. This statement outlines our expectations when doctors interact with health-related commercial organisations, and provides guidance on recognising, assessing and managing conflicts of interest (including perceived conflicts of interest) that may arise.

  • Medical certification

    Doctors are often asked to sign certificates for a wide range of purposes, such as confirming sickness, impairment or death. This statement outlines factors to consider, and the standards that doctors must follow, when issuing a medical certificate.

  • Professional boundaries

    This statement outlines the doctor's responsibility to maintain professional boundaries with patients and covers the inherent power imbalance in the doctor-patient relationship, gifts, bequests and loans, other financial transactions, acting as a representative or enduring power of attorney, and social media.

  • During the course of a medical career, a doctor may be involved in management or have a leadership role. This statement outlines the standards doctors are expected to meet when they take on such roles. While doctors in a leadership role have a duty to their workplace and the wider community, their first consideration must always be the interests and safety of patients.

  • Sexual boundaries

    This statement outlines the doctor's responsibility to maintain sexual boundaries with patients, includes advice on what to do if boundaries are threatened, and offers guidance on sexual relationships with former patients and with family members of patients.

  • Unprofessional behaviour

    As a doctor, you have an obligation to be respectful and professional as your behaviour may affect how a health team functions, how care is delivered to patients, and the public’s trust and confidence in the medical profession. If you have concerns about the conduct, competence or safety of a doctor’s practice, you should notify the Medical Council.