Open disclosure

Occasionally things do not go to plan, and a patient can be unintentionally harmed while receiving healthcare – this is known as a clinical incident. If this happens, the patient, their carer and/or family should expect to have explained to them what has happened. We call this open disclosure.

Patients, carers and/or families involved in open disclosure should expect:

  • An apology, or expression of regret which should include the words ‘I am sorry’ or ‘we are sorry’
  • A factual explanation of what happened
  • An opportunity for the patient, their family and carers to relate their experience
  • A discussion of the potential consequences of the adverse event
  • An explanation of the steps being taken to manage the adverse event and prevent recurrence.

It is important to note that open disclosure is not a one-way provision of information. It is a discussion between two parties and an exchange of information which may take place over an extended period.

Last Updated: 24/03/2021