Open Disclosure

Sometimes things do go wrong in medical practices. It is important to communicate openly and honestly with your patients if this happens. This helps them to understand how and why the incident occurred and what was done to prevent it happening again. It also gives the patient the opportunity to tell you how they feel.

Has something happened in your practice which has caused harm to a patient while they were receiving treatment or care? This could be physical – for example, an incorrect immunisation given could cause harm; or psychological – for example a false positive test result given may cause significant emotional stress.

It is advisable to contact your medical defence organisation for guidance about when to conduct open disclosure with your patient. All incidents and near misses should be recorded in the patient’s health record as well as in a register.

Open disclosure is defined in the Australian Open Disclosure Framework as, ‘an open discussion with a patient about one or more incidents that resulted in harm to the patient while they were receiving healthcare’. The RACGP has endorsed the Australian Open Disclosure Framework which was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission).

Reference: Criterion QI3.2 – Open Disclosure