The Government is introducing Part 4 of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017 (protective provisions for open disclosure) on Saturday 22 September 2018.
Commenting, Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at the Medical Protection Society (MPS) said:
“MPS believes that when things go wrong in healthcare Open Disclosure is morally and ethically right. This approach aids the recovery process for all involved, and encourages learning and improvement. While an open discussion can lessen the risk of patients taking more formal legal action after an adverse outcome, we know that practising open communication can be difficult especially for clinicians at the front line.
“To be effective, a cultural shift in healthcare organisations is necessary. An open, learning culture at an organisational level is needed, along with leadership that is firmly committed to Open Disclosure so that clinicians feel supported and confident to admit errors, apologise and learn from mistakes.
“MPS has always been of the view that while you can mandate open disclosure through legislation, it may not result in real behavioural change, and may even result in a ‘tick-box’ process without support from the top. This could mean that patients do not get the sincere apology and explanation they deserve.
“In principle, legislation that protects the provision of apologies is a welcome move. A meaningful apology should not be seen as an admission of liability; rather, it is an acknowledgment that something has gone wrong and is a way of expressing empathy. We recognise however, that this can be challenging for healthcare professionals as they remain fearful of blame or personal recrimination.
“We will continue to work with our members to provide advice and support, education and practical tools which help with communication and difficult conversations.”
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