Lookback is a process that is triggered when a clinical incident or concern leads to the notification and tracking of affected or potentially affected groups of patients. The lookback process is in keeping with a risk management approach and intersects with related processes for example, incident review, open disclosure, critical response. Lookback is also referred to as 'traceability’.


The NSW Health Lookback Policy Directive (PD2023_003) outlines when NSW Health Services are to initiate a lookback process and the four steps involved.


Clear, consistent communication is important when communicating with patients, families and carers regarding a lookback event. Sample wording for corresponding with patients regarding a lookback event, that can be adapted for local use, is available here.