Open Disclosure - Revisited

Unexpected outcomes are an unavoidable part of healthcare. However the likelihood of a patient taking legal action may be affected by the way the incident is managed, as well as the communication process. Open Disclosure is an important process for communicating when there has been an unfortunate or unexpected outcome during treatment and care. 

Tego Keeps Our Clients Informed

Open disclosure allows healthcare practitioners to manage any consequences appropriately. By acknowledging an unfortunate event, a healthcare practitioner takes the initial step to promoting a culture of transparency and trust, as well reducing the likelihood of a similar event occurring again.

The Australian Open Disclosure Framework

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQHC) has produced an Australian Open Disclosure Framework to support and promote a consistent approach, across all healthcare settings. This framework provide guidance to medical professionals to be able to safely acknowledge and express regret when there has been an unexpected healthcare outcome.

Open Disclosure entails:

  • An open, face-to-face, factual and non-speculative discussion of what happened and the potential consequences of the event.
  • Patients should be encouraged to bring a friend or relative for support during any discussions.
  • Useful materials and resources including planning and preparation templates, flow charts, checklists and documentation templates are available and may assist you to understand the what, when, where, why and how of conducting an open disclosure. 

Important To Keep In Mind

  1. Always keep communication with your patients open and ongoing by:
    • Being available and responsive.
    • Providing your contact details or ensure that you can be reached if they have any concerns. 
    • Provide reassurance and support with ongoing monitoring throughout recovery.
    • Communication with the GP and other relevant health practitioners is also recommended. 

       2. It is very powerful to just say- you’re sorry, which also means you are listening and giving your patient the opportunity of being heard. 


The Framework Is For Hospital Practitioners And Those In Private Practice 

The guide implementing the Australian Open Disclosure Framework in small practices should be used to assist sole practitioners and others in small practices to implement open disclosure in accordance with the framework.

What if I work in a hospital or day surgery? 

If an error or an adverse event occurs in a hospital setting, it is important to follow the hospital’s policy with regards to Open Disclosure and incident notification. Hospital policy will provide guidance as to when and how to make disclosure, and usually sets out certain obligations and who is to undertake them.

Tego Protects You And Your Practice 

As a medical indemnity insurance provider in Australia, Tego Insurance will cover your practice with medical indemnity insurance, medical malpractice insurance, doctors indemnity insurance, medical practice insurance, gp medical indemnity insurance, and more. If you are a medical practitioner with Tego, your medical indemnity insurance comes with 24/7 medico-legal advice and support to guide you through Open Disclosure issues.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitutes legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss su­ffered in connection with the use of this information.