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Mandatory open disclosure Bill published

A Bill providing for mandatory open disclosure of specified serious patient safety incidents has been published today.

According to the Department of Health, the new Patient Safety (Notifiable Patient Safety Incidents) Bill 2019 will legislate for a number of important patient safety measures.  

Speaking today, the Minister for Health Simon Harris said “I want us to have a culture of open disclosure, where health practitioners are supported and where patients’ voices are heard.

“It is so important that things go wrong, a sincere and genuine apology is offered; that there is an understanding of what has happened; and an assurance that what happened will not happen again.

“This new Patient Safety Bill will focus on open disclosure and will signal a new era for the health service.”

The Bill contains a list of specified patient safety incidents which will be subject to mandatory open disclosure. It also includes a new process by which the Minister will designate other patient safety incidents for which mandatory open disclosure must also occur.

“This flexible approach will ensure that the list of serious patient safety incidents subject to mandatory open disclosure can be kept up-to-date,” according to the Department.   

A second core purpose of this new legislation is to enable national learning from these serious patient safety incidents and to support health service-wide improvements so that harm to other patients can be prevented.

The new Bill will require notification of these serious patient safety incidents externally to HIQA, the Chief Inspector of Social Services (CISS) and the Mental Health Commission (MHC).

According to the Department, the Bill places the patient and/or their family at the centre of the open disclosure process.

As soon as practical after a notifiable patient safety incident becoming known to the health services provider, they must disclose all information known about the incident at a meeting arranged with the patient and/or their family. 

In addition, the patient and/or their family will be entitled to receive comprehensive, accurate and timely information about the incident at the meeting within five days of the meeting.  The Bill also contains provisions which enable patients and their families to defer the open disclosure process, should they wish to do so.

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