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Concerns raised with ‘mandatory’ nature of open disclosure

Concerns were raised at the recent IMO AGM in Killarney, Co Kerry by the outgoing union President over Government plans to introduce mandatory open disclosure.

Speaking during a debate on a motion dealing with open disclosure, former IMO President and emergency medicine consultant Dr Peadar Gilligan said he had concerns with the proposed “mandatory” aspect of open disclosure that the Government is reportedly planning to introduce.

Dr Gilligan said he would rather see “supported and resourced open disclosure” rather than “mandatory”.

He told delegates that “anything that criminalises the interaction between a doctor and a patient is not in the interest of care. Hence my opposition to the concept of mandatory disclosure.”

He added that there was a difficulty with the mandating of open disclosure in a country that is so litigious,  “in a country that requires significant tort reform” and where he said the entire health service needs significant investment.

He said that the motion that mentioned “mandatory open disclosure” should instead read “supported and resourced open disclosure”. 

“The Patient Safety Bill is in the phase where it is open for discussion and I think it is incredibly important that the IMO inform that discussion,” said Dr Gilligan.

“We need not put the cart before the horse. We need to put the tort reform in place and the supports in place to first of all lessen the likelihood of an adverse event happening and then having done that we can look at ways of achieving open disclosure in ways that is efficient and focused.”

In the end, union delegates voted to refer the motion on open disclosure to the IMO Council for further discussion.

The HSE is currently reviewing its open disclosure policy following the recommendations of last year’s Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme [Scally Report]. The Scally Report recommended the introduction of mandatory open disclosure. Last month a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that this revision is a “priority piece of work”.

Mandatory open disclosure is also proposed as part of the Government’s upcoming Patient Safety Bill.

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