Courtesy of my colleague (and friend) Bill Madden, I note the NSW Government has issued a Policy Directive in relation to Open Disclosure, a copy of which can be found here.

I note with interest, the “MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS” of such policy:

1. Acknowledgement of a patient safety incident to the patient and/or their support person(s), as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours of the incident. This includes recognising the significance of the incident to the patient.

2. Truthful, clear and timely communication on an ongoing basis as required. 

3. Providing an apology to the patient and/or their support person(s) as early as possible, including the words “I am sorry” or “we are sorry”.

4. Providing care and support to patients and/or their support person(s) which is responsive to their needs and expectations, for as long as is required.

5. Providing support to those providing health care which is responsive to their needs and expectations.

6. An integrated approach to improving patient safety, in which open disclosure is linked with clinical and corporate governance, incident reporting, risk management, complaints management and quality improvement policies and processes. This includes evaluation of the process by patients and their support person(s) and staff, accountability for learning from patient safety incidents and evidence of systems improvement.

Selected emphasis by me of key points which in my experience are not embraced in WA, either public or private sector health care.  Don’t think I have yet had a patient who described the hospital/health provider’s response as set out at paragraph 2 above: more often = “evasive, avoidant, half-hearted and belated….”  I appreciate my experience (and my clients) are probably not a fair representation across the board.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this happened though!