The Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017 passed all stages of the Oireachtas in late 2017 with the majority of the provisions relating to Open Disclosure, including the protective provisions at Section 10, approved by the Dáil. However, and perhaps surprisingly, the proposed amendment to Section 12 which would have made Open Disclosure mandatory was ultimately rejected.
Some will argue that the failure to introduce a mandatory duty of Open Disclosure will not go far enough to protect patients. However, the State Claims Agency, when addressing the Joint Committee on Health in 2016 called voluntary disclosure the “optimal approach” as it strikes an appropriate balance between protecting patients and practitioners involved in Open Disclosure.
It is anticipated that the Act will be signed into law in the early part of 2018 and only time will tell whether the new legislation will improve disclosure of patient safety incidents. It is of course hoped that the implementation of the protective provisions in the Act together with the clear framework provided to assist practitioners in making disclosure will foster a culture of open and honest communication in all healthcare settings.