Update and Notice of Commencement of Part 4  of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017  and  Civil Liability (Open Disclosure) (Prescribed Statements) Regulations 2018

The HSE remains committed to the principles of open disclosure and promotes a culture of openness and transparency across all health and social care services.

Open disclosure is an open and consistent approach to communicating with patients and their families/support persons following adverse events in health care. It includes expressing regret for what has happened, keeping the patient informed, providing feedback on any reviews undertaken as a result of an adverse event and information on the steps being taken by the health service provider to manage that event and to try to prevent a recurrence of the event.

The HSE operates a policy on open disclosure which came into effect on 12th November 2013.  Dr Gabriel Scally in his report  “Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme, Final Report, September 2018” recommended that “the HSE’s open disclosure policy and HSE/SCA guidelines should be revised as a matter of urgency”. This process of revision has already commenced and staff will be kept updated in relation to the same. The HSE Open Disclosure policy and supporting documents are available on the HSE website  www.hse.ie/opendisclosure.  It is expected that all staff comply with the HSE policy and guidelines on open disclosure and within the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners 2016.

The Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017 was signed into law in November 2017. Part 4 of this Act will commence on 22nd September 2018. The provisions within Part 4 of the Act are designed to give legal protection for the information and/or apology provided by staff engaging in voluntary open disclosure discussions with patients and/or their relevant person(s).  The provisions within this Act are intended to create and support a positive voluntary climate for open disclosure. The Act sets out the manner in which open disclosure must be conducted for staff to avail of the protective provisions within the Act.  The Regulations accompanying Part 4 of the Act will also come into effect on 23rd September 2018.  These regulations provide the form of various written statement(s) to be provided to patients and maintained on record by the health service provider in relation to the open disclosure process.

In advance of the regulations coming into effect and in compliance with the 2017 Act the HSE is preparing a short guidance document for staff on how to manage open disclosure within the provisions of the Act. Resources, including relevant forms, will be available by 22nd September, 2018 on the HSE website www.hse.ie/opendisclosure.  Local trainers will also be briefed on the legislation and training will be made available for staff on the implications of this Act for practice.

Full details of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017 Act are available on  http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/acts/2017/a3017.pdf

For further information and for regular updates in relation to the national open disclosure programme visit www.hse.ie/opendisclosure.

If you have a specific query relating to open disclosure please email angela.tysall@hse.ie