Laws protecting open disclosure conversations are unnecessary and a misguided strategy to encourage error disclosure
There has been a dramatic change in the approach to medical errors internationally, with a new ethic of transparency replacing the traditional customs of secrecy and denial. Australia has been at the forefront of this shift towards openness with Australian health ministers endorsing a national Open Disclosure Standard in 2003, which made it clear that there is an ethical responsibility to maintain honest communication with patients and their families even when things go wrong.1 However, while it is widely agreed that medical errors should be disclosed to patients, there is a large “disclosure gap” between expected practice and what is actually being done.2 Most research internationally suggests that a primary barrier to disclosure is health professionals’ fears regarding legal ramifications.3 Recent studies suggest that this is also the case in Australia.3,4
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.