Open disclosure — in the pipeline for Ireland?

There has been much discussion around the issue of open disclosure in recent times. Given the very public debate relating to public state costs in defending medical negligence actions in this jurisdiction, this is likely to be seen as a necessary and pragmatic development for our health system and for patients. ‘Open disclosure’ is defined by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care as ‘an open, consistent approach to communicating with patients when things go wrong in healthcare’.

The Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance, established by the Minister for Health and Children in 2007, published a report entitled ‘Building a Culture of Patient Safety’ in August 2008. One of the key recommendations in the report is the development and support of a culture of open disclosure to patients and their next of kin, following an adverse event resulting in harm to a patient.

In November 2013, minister James Reilly launched a range of open-disclosure documents to include a national policy, national guidelines and a staff support booklet. The national policy and the related open-disclosure guidelines set out six specific provisions. This includes the necessity to ensure that communication with service users and their families following an adverse event is undertaken in an empathetic, informed and timely manner. It also provides that it is necessary to ensure that staff involved in an adverse event are identified, monitored and provided with adequate support in the aftermath of the adverse event and also throughout the open-disclosure and incident review process…

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