Patients' and family members' experiences of open disclosure following adverse events

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 2008, 20 (6), pp. 421 - 432
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Objective: To explore patients' and family members' perceptions of Open Disclosure of adverse events that occurred during their health care. Design: We interviewed 23 people involved in adverse events and incident disclosure using a semi-structured, open-ended guide. We analyzed transcripts using thematic discourse analysis. Setting: Four States in Australia: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Study participants: Twenty-three participants were recruited as part of an evaluation of the Australian Open Disclosure pilot commissioned by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Results: All participants (except one) appreciated the opportunity to meet with staff and have the adverse event explained to them. Their accounts also reveal a number of concerns about how Open Disclosure is enacted: disclosure not occurring promptly or too informally; disclosure not being adequately followed up with tangible support or change in practice; staff not offering an apology, and disclosure not providing opportunities for consumers to meet with the staff originally involved in the adverse event. Analysis of participants' accounts suggests that a combination of formal Open Disclosure, a full apology, and an offer of tangible support has a higher chance of gaining consumer satisfaction than if one or more of these components is absent. Conclusions: Staff need to become more attuned in their disclosure communication to the victim s perceptions and experience of adverse events, to offer an appropriate apology, to support victims long-term as well as short-term, and to consider using consumers' insights into adverse events for the purpose of service improvement. © The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press in association with the International Society for Quality in Health Care; all rights reserved.
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