3.2.4 Who can sign certificates

The certifying practitioner is required to provide certain information on the Certificate of Capacity Ongoing certificate is issued for up to 28 days and can be issued by a: medical practitioner, osteopath, physiotherapist, chiropractor..

See: Certificate of capacity - GP users guide

Initial medical certificate

Only medical practitioners can sign the initial medical certificate The first medical certificate is for a maximum of 14 days and can only be issued by a registered medical practitioner. (first certificate).

The term medical practitioner means:

  • a medical practitioner registered to practise in the medical profession (other than as a student) under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law
  • a lawfully qualified medical practitioner:
  • in Australia
  • outside Australia who is approved by WorkSafe.


Note that a psychologist Registered psychologist means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the psychology profession (other than as a student). is not a medical practitioner.

Ongoing certificate of capacity

After the first medical certificate is issued by a medical practitioner, ongoing Certificates of Capacity (subsequent certificates) can be signed by a:

The practitioners must be registered to practise in their profession (other than as a student) under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

For the purposes of a certificate of capacity, electronic signatures (including a typed name) can be accepted by Agents.

Changes in signatories

If there is a change in a signatory on a certificate, especially after a long period of incapacity, Agents need to be satisfied with the reasons for the change.

The reason may be straightforward, for example:

  • the worker has changed address
  • the THP Treating Health Practitioner has changed address
  • the worker is seeing a specialist or
  • the worker’s usual THP is absent and the worker is seeing another practitioner from the same clinic.

If there is an unexplained reason, Agents should enquire why the former practitioner is no longer certifying the worker as incapacitated for work.

Agents should also consider this if the worker travels long distances from their home to receive a Certificate of Capacity.

See: Further investigation

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3.2.5 Diagnosis

Certificates must specify the nature of the worker's injury or disease and a bodily location. Any change to this diagnosis needs to be reviewed.

The diagnosis section specifies the practitioner’s opinion as to diagnosis of the worker’s injury/condition. It is also intended to clarify whether other medical conditions exist which may impact on appropriate treatment, return to work and whether the worker’s medical status has returned to that before the injury.

Exception for specifying bodily location

In some cases the bodily location does not need to be specified because it can reasonably be determined from the nature of the injury or disease, for example: myocardial infarction, emphysema.

Unacceptable diagnosis

Symptoms of injuries or conditions that do not specify the nature of the worker's injury or disease are not acceptable, for example: sore arm, back pain, etc.

See: Valid Ongoing Certificate of Capacity

Diagnosis changes

If the diagnosis changes Agents should check that the new diagnosis is related to the compensable injury and takes appropriate claims management action if required.

Further claimed injuries on certificate

The certificate may include further injuries and Agents should consider if they are medically proximal to the claimed injuries.

If the new injury is not medically proximal to the injuries claimed, the worker should be requested to submit a new claim to have these further injuries assessed.

Proximal means: nearest to or situated near, the point of attachment or origin.

For exampleClosed if the original injury was to the worker’s hand, an injury to the wrist is medically proximal. However, if the further injury was to the shoulder, this is not proximal.

Changes occur during early stages

A diagnosis is more likely to change in the early stages of a claim as the nature of the injury becomes clearer after tests and/or specialist referral.

Examples of acceptable changes to diagnosis
  • certificate for a prolapsed disc would be acceptable if the claim was for a back injury or
  • rotator cuff would be acceptable if the claim was for an arm injury.

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