Press Release

Key Patient Safety Milestone as Open Disclosure Provisions Complete Passage through Oireachtas – Minister Harris

Minister welcomes passage of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill  Part 4 of which provides for open disclosure.

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, today welcomed the passing of the Civil Liability (Amendment Bill) 2017 on its return to the Seanad.

Minister Harris said “Patient safety and quality are at the heart of our health services and it is important to keep our patients and service users at the centre of everything we do. Delivery of healthcare is, however, inherently risky and while it is inevitable that things may go wrong, there is much that can be done to prevent harm or error, identify and act on when it occurs and to learn from this to improve services.  Creating a culture of open disclosure and learning from the things that go wrong is the bedrock of making services safer”.

The legislative provisions on open disclosure are a key element of building a culture of patient safety.  The goal from the outset has been to create a safe space where there can and should be full disclosure of the facts surrounding a patient safety incident and of the implications, if any, for the patient’s care and treatment. It is important that where an apology is warranted it is made when the facts of the incident are known and not years later. These open disclosure provisions will support the on-going implementation of the HSE Policy on Open Disclosure.

The Minister continued “The objective is to create a system where the risk of an incident occurring is minimised; when such an event does occur, to ensure that the patient is informed and appropriate remedial actions are taken immediately; and to enable appropriate reporting, and reviews of incidents so that any lessons which can be learned as a result of the incident are disseminated throughout the system as quickly as possible to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence”.

The Minister for Health launched the joint HIQA and Mental Health Commission Standards on the Conduct of Reviews of Patient Safety Incidents last month.

The Director of the National Patient Safety Office (NPSO), Dr Kathleen Mac Lellan, said “The open disclosure provisions are one part of a number of initiatives to promote a comprehensive patient-centred approach to preventing, managing and learning from incidents. We will continue through the NPSO to advance key actions to build a strong patient safety culture including the introduction for the first time of the national patient safety surveillance system. We will use this information to identify gaps and patient safety priorities in order to direct the health system and make good patient safety policy. This is with the aim of enhancing patient experiences, preventing harm, improving patient outcomes and saving lives and ensuring robust patient safety systems are in place. ”

The Minister also intends to shortly bring forward the general scheme of a new Patient Safety Licensing Bill, which will introduce a regulatory system through licensing for all hospitals in Ireland, as well as certain designated high risk activities that take place outside a hospital setting. This new licensing system, where HIQA will be the licensing authority, will promote the development of robust clinical governance frameworks throughout the health service and serve to aid in the effort to ensure a safe, responsive and accountable approach to the delivery of health care.