Open Disclosure


The Open Disclosure project aims to enhance the care and support provided to patients and/or their support people and health care staff involved in a patient safety incident, through outlining a clear process for open disclosure communications and the roles and responsibilities of health services and their staff.


Effective open disclosure can [1]:

  • improve patient safety through an improved understanding of how things go wrong
  • increase trust between patients who have been harmed by a patient safety incident and health care providers when information is exchanged and an apology is received
  • assist patients to become more active partners in their care.

[1] Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) Australian Open Disclosure Framework, Sydney, 2013


The Open Disclosure project is:

  • Revising the NSW Health Open Disclosure policy, with reference to the Australian Open Disclosure Framework
  • Developing the CEC Open Disclosure Handbook and accompanying resources, based on a revision of the NSW Health Open Disclosure Guideline
  • Developing an online education program which will build knowledge and skills in open disclosure, to be hosted on HETI Online.


Open disclosure is a process for ensuring that open, honest, empathic and timely discussions occur between patients and/or their support person(s) and health care staff following a patient safety incident. It is an integral part of incident management in NSW Health services and is a key element of the early response and investigation of serious patient safety incidents.

Open disclosure is required whenever a patient has been harmed or potentially harmed, whether that harm is

  • a result of an unplanned or unintended event or circumstance, or
  • an outcome of an illness or its treatment that has not met the patient’s or the clinician’s expectation for improvement or cure.

A disclosure discussion is also generally required when a ‘no harm’ incident has been identified, and may be required for ‘near miss’ incidents if there is an ongoing safety risk to the patient and the patient would benefit from knowing.

The NSW Health Open Disclosure Policy provides a framework for discussions that are respectful, truthful, clear and timely “when things go wrong” with patient care, or the outcome for a patient and family is not what was expected by them or their treating clinician.

The revised NSW Health Open Disclosure Policy PD2014_028 is available at:

The CEC Open Disclosure web page will host the Open Disclosure Handbook and other resources to support open disclosure practice within NSW Health facilities and services.

The Introduction to Open Disclosure online lesson is available from HETI Online which can be accessed via:


NSW Ministry of Health:

  • Legal and Regulatory Branch
  • Finance Branch

HETI: are hosting a series of online lessons about open disclosure

Open disclosure working party: to provide expert advice on development of the policy, handbook and resources. Members represent:

  • health consumers
  • Medical Defence Organisations (MDOs)
  • State Insurance Corporation (SI Corp) and Treasury Managed Funds (TMF)
  • Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC)
  • Government Insurance Organisation (GIO)
  • Patient based care and Clinical Governance directorates at the CEC
  • Clinicians, health executives, clinical governance unit staff, workplace health and safety managers, complaints officers, managers responsible for insurable risk
  • HETI
  • State Insurance Corporation (SI Corp) and Treasury Managed Funds (TMF)


Key Dates

September 2014

Release of the NSW Health Open Disclosure Policy.

October 2014

Release of the CEC lesson lesson "Introduction to Open Disclosure" on HETI Online

November 2014

Release of the CEC Open Disclosure Handbook

December 2014

Release of the CEC lesson lessons "Open Disclosure Advisor" on HETI Online

Pilot Sites

Implementation Sites


Further Details


Jennifer Gillott
Open Disclosure Project Manager
02 9269 5500

Dr Jonny Taitz
Director, Patient Safety
02 9269 5500

Page Top | Added: 2 June 2014 | Last modified: 17 November 2014

Jennifer Gillott
Open Disclosure Project Manager
02 9269 5500