Patient Safety HSE National Open Disclosure Policy

Patient Safety, HSE National Open Disclosure Policy

In the realm of healthcare transparency is not just an ethical imperative but also a cornerstone of Patient Centred Care.    Recognising this, the HSE in Ireland has implemented the National Open Disclosure Policy aimed at fostering open communication between healthcare providers and patients or their families in the event of adverse incidents.   The policy not only assures accountability but also promotes trust and facilitates the healing process for all parties involved. 

Key components of the policy.  The HSE National Open Disclosure Policy outlines a structured approach to handling adverse incidents emphasising honesty, empathy and support throughout the disclosure of process.

Here are the key components:

  1. Voluntary disclosure. The policy is encouraging healthcare providers to disclose adverse incidents to patients or their families promptly regardless of whether they have been formally reported.   This voluntary disclosure underscores the commitment to transparency and Patient Safety and Care. 
  2. Timeliness and Sensitivity. Disclosure should occur as soon as possible after the incident conducted with sensitivity to the emotional needs of patients and families. Effective communication skills and empathy are vital in conveying information in a compassionate manner.
  3. Content of Disclosure. The Policy delineates the essential elements of disclosure including an explanation of what happened, its implications for the Patient’s Safety and health, steps taken to address the situation, and an apology where appropriate. Clear and honest communication is crucial in building trust and rapport with patients and families.
  4. Support for healthcare professionals. Recognising the emotive tone of adverse incidents on healthcare providers the policy emphasises the provision of support and training open disclosure and open disclosure practices. This support helps ensure that the healthcare professionals feel equipped to engage in honest and empathetic conversations with patients and families.
  5. Documentation and follow up. Comprehensive documentation of the disclosure process is essential for accountability and continuity of care.   Follow up support and information should be provided to patients and families to address any ongoing concerns or needs.

Benefits of Open Disclosures

The implementation of the National Open Disclosure Policy brings several benefits to both patients and healthcare providers:

  1. Enhanced Trust. Open and honest communications fosters trust between patients and healthcare providers strengthening the therapeutic relationship and patient satisfaction.
  2. Improved Patient Safety. By promoting a culture of transparency, the policy encourages learning from adverse incidents and implementing measures to prevent their reoccurrence ultimately enhancing Patient Safety.
  3. Emotional healing. Prompt and sensitive disclosure of adverse incidents allows patients and families to process their emotions and begin the healing process with the support of healthcare providers.
  4. Professional Development. Training in open disclosure practices equips healthcare professionals with valuable communication skills and empathy enhancing their ability to navigate difficult conversations and provide Patient Centred Safety and Care.

For more detailed insights into how Patient Safety Rights and the Patient Safety Act 2023 impacts you and how Whelan Law can support you, please visit our Patient Safety Rights Legal Advice page <