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Legal provisions ‘an intrusion’ on doctor/patient communications

By Mindo - 14th May 2021

Insurance agent checking policy documents in office.

The “bureaucratic and legalistic” process of mandatory open disclosure in proposed legislation will represent an “intrusion into the patient/doctor encounter”, a leading surgeon has said.

Prof Sean Tierney, Dean of Professional Development and Practice at the RCSI, told the Medical Independent the processes set out in the Patient Safety (Notifiable Patient Safety Incidents) Bill 2019 are in “stark contrast” to the “empathic” manner of engagement taught in medical education courses.

“Making the use of the process mandatory in this setting including the structured minuted meetings, the complex forms, and the intrusion into the patient/doctor encounter… is in stark contrast to the far more appropriate empathic format that we teach in our human factors communications courses and that outlined in the HSE open disclosure policy,” according to Prof Tierney.

In the “vast majority” of cases, healthcare-related harm was “a complication of treatment and such explanations are a normal feature of good healthcare”, he added.

“The provisions of the Patient Safety Bill relating to open disclosure appear to be intended to deal with harm that occurs as a result of failings in the quality of healthcare provided to patients, as distinct from ‘expected’ complications.”
However, the definition of these events in the Bill is “very broad and imprecise”, according to Prof Tierney.

See news feature, When healthcare goes wrong… – Medical Independent

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The Medical Independent 21st March 2023
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