General principles

The mandatory requirements for health services in the implementation of open disclosure are based on principles which guide effective open disclosure practice, outlined in the Australian Open Disclosure Framework [1]. These principles address and balance the complex interests of patients, clinicians, managers, health services and other key stakeholder groups such as health care consumers, professional indemnity insurers and professional organisations.

The Open Disclosure Policy (PD2014_028) requires that local health districts and specialty networks have in place local processes to support implementation of the policy and associated responsibilities.

Effective implementation of open disclosure contributes to improving the quality and safety of health care and requires an organisational focus on developing a safe and just culture and effective communications.

Roles and responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of all clinicians include:

  • completing education about open disclosure
  • ensuring that the patient is safeguarded from further harm following a patient safety incident
  • apologising to a patient and/or their support person(s) following a patient safety incident, without attribution of blame or speculation about the course of events
  • participating in open disclosure as required
  • ensuring that a patient safety incident and associated open disclosure is recorded in the patient's health care record and the incident management system.

The Open Disclosure Policy (PD2014_028) also sets out the specific responsibilities of senior clinicians, Directors of Clinical Governance, managers with operational responsibility at facility/service level, department heads, open disclosure coordinators and open disclosure advisors. The roles of health care staff involved in open disclosure may be combined and responsibilities may overlap. Additional staff resources are not necessarily required.

[1] Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) Australian Open Disclosure Framework, Sydney, 2013