Health regulatory authorities have a duty to administer processes that govern disciplinary measures and complaints brought against healthcare professionals. The issues considered by these bodies can be varied in nature, but have relevance to the safety and quality of health services. Researchers in the United Kingdom have recently assessed fitness to practice (FtP) impairment among various healthcare professionals. Manually reviewing FtP impairment cases for feedback is inefficient due to the large number of cases and amount of information within them. In this study, a topic analysis method was employed which involved a novel design that utilised non-negative matrix factorisation and machine learning to aid in assessment of FtP cases. Between August 2017 and June 2019, data analysis of 577 dental, 481 medical, 2199 nursing and 63 pharmacy cases identified the following common topics:

  • Criminal offences
  • Dishonesty (fraud/theft)
  • Drug possession/supply
  • English language
  • Indemnity insurance
  • Patient care/incompetence
  • Personal behaviour


Patient care was the most prominent issue in dental, medical and nursing cases and criminal offences were most prominent in pharmacy cases. The results of the study highlight that although similarities exist between different healthcare professionals, each has main concerns to be addressed by the occupation’s professional and educational organisations. The full paper can be viewed here.

Contributed by Australian Medication Safety Services Associate – Isabella Singh