Enacting open disclosure in the UK National Health Service: a qualitative exploration.

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Background: Open and honest discussion between healthcare providers and patients and families affected by error is considered to be a central feature of high quality and safer patient care, evidenced by the implementation of open disclosure policies and guidance internationally. This paper discusses the perceived enablers that UK doctors and nurses report as facilitating the enactment of open disclosure. Methods: Semistructured interviews with 13 doctors and 22 nurses from a range of levels and specialities from 5 national health service hospitals and primary care trusts in the UK were conducted and analysed using a framework approach. Results: Five themes were identified which appear to capture the factors that are critical in supporting open disclosure: open disclosure as a moral and professional duty, positive past experiences, perceptions of reduced litigation, role models and guidance, and clarity. Conclusion: Greater openness in relation to adverse events requires health professionals to recognise candour as a professional and moral duty, exemplified in the behaviour of senior clinicians and that seems more likely to occur in a nonpunitive, learning environment. Recognising incident disclosure as part of ongoing respectful and open communication with patients throughout their care is critical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-718
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number4
Early online date21 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 The Authors Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • adverse events
  • being open
  • hospitals
  • incident disclosure
  • medical error
  • open disclosure

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