Support for staff

Open disclosure plays an important role in how well health care staff who have been involved in a patient safety incident manage following the incident. Effective open disclosure requires a 'just' culture that fosters an honest and transparent approach and staff feel supported to participate in disclosure discussions. A just culture encourages sharing of lessons learned from disclosure and incident review with the patient and/or their support person, and with health care staff, the health service and the wider health community.

The Impact of Patient Safety Incidents on Health Care Staff

Some health care staff may experience degrees of stress as a result of exposure to a patient safety incident in which a patient was harmed, or from participating in open disclosure discussions and being exposed to the distress of the patient, their support person(s) or a colleague. The impact will vary depending on the nature of the incident and an individual's response.

Health care staff who think that they, or a friend or colleague, may be experiencing stress-related symptoms after a patient safety incident, are strongly encouraged to seek advice and support from staff support services, including the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or similar services offered by each local health district or specialty network on a confidential basis.

Concerns of Health Care Staff

Health care staff have identified a number of concerns about participating in open disclosure including fear of litigation, and a lack of knowledge about how much information to disclose about a patient safety incident. The open disclosure advisor or a senior colleague experienced in open disclosure will be able to provide guidance about measures to mitigate these concerns.

Benefits for Health Care Staff

Disclosure and apology can help staff to heal and recover from a patient safety incident, and also preserve the relationship between health care staff and the patient and/or their support person.