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Act mandates open disclosure of healthcare failings
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25 Apr 2024 / legislation Print

Act mandates disclosure of healthcare failings

An upcoming law will compel open disclosure of any safety incidents in a healthcare setting.

The Patient Safety (Notifiable Incidents and Open Disclosure) Act 2023 was signed into law in May 2023 but preparatory steps are required before the act can be formally commenced. 

The purpose is to facilitate open and honest disclosure among patients and health-services providers and practitioners.


A Matheson briefing note says that the intention is to make open disclosure the norm.

It builds upon the framework put in place by the HSE's Open Disclosure Policy (2013) and Part 4 of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017.

The latter provided for voluntary open disclosure only.

Currently, practitioners and health providers may make an open disclosure of any patient-safety incident, including those which did not result in harm.

The key difference is that there will now be certain types of notifiable incidents which will require mandatory reporting, as opposed to simply allowing an option to make an open disclosure.

The existing framework will, however, also remain in place. 

Reporting requirements

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has held stakeholder meetings explaining how to prepare for the new reporting requirements.

On commencement, when a notifiable incident occurs in a health setting as defined under the act, health-services providers must engage with patients and their families in open disclosure.

HIQA has held consultations with private hospitals on amending the scope of the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare.

Feedback will be used by HIQA towards a final standards document and a stakeholder involvement report.

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