Patient Safety, The Duty of Candour and Open Disclosure for Health Care Professionals in Ireland

Patient Safety, The Duty of Candour and Open Disclosure for Health Care Professionals in Ireland

The Duty of Candour and Open Disclosure of Healthcare Professionals in Ireland is a critical aspect of Patient Safety and Care.    It refers to the ethical and legal obligation of health care providers to be honest and transparent with patients and their families about adverse events, errors or complications that occur during medical treatment.    This duty is essential for maintaining trust between healthcare providers and patients, as well as promoting accountability and learning in the healthcare system.    In Ireland the Duty of Candour is outlined in various guidelines and regulations, including the Medical Council’s guide to professional conduct and ethics for registered medical practitioners.    According to these guidelines, the healthcare professionals have a responsibility to communicate openly and honestly with patients and their families providing them with clear and accurate information about their condition, treatment options, and any potential risks or complications.  

Furthermore, the Duty of Candour requires healthcare professionals to promptly disclose any adverse events or errors that occurred during the course of treatment regardless of whether harm has occurred.   This includes providing a sincere apology to the patient or their family and offering support and assistance in addressing the consequences of the adverse event.

Failure to fulfil the Duty of Candour can have serious consequences both ethically and legally.  Patients have the right to know about any mistakes or complications that occurred during their care, and withholding this information can erode trust and undermine the relationship between Patient and Healthcare Professional.    More over the healthcare professionals may face disciplinary action or legal consequences for failing to disclose adverse events or for providing misleading information to patients. 

In addition to the ethical and legal obligations, embracing a culture of openness and transparency can also lead to improvements in Patient Safety and quality of Care.  By openly acknowledging and learning from mistakes healthcare providers can identify areas for improvement and implement measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Overall, the Duty of Candour and Open Disclosure is a fundamental principle in healthcare ethics in Ireland emphasising the importance of honesty, transparency and accountability in Patient Safety and Care.    By upholding this duty healthcare professionals can uphold the trust and confidence of their patients while fostering a culture of patient safety and continuous improvement within the healthcare system.  

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 <