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

Oxford University Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 2008, 20 (6), pp. 421 - 432
Issue Date:
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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.
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