Open Disclosure - Information for HSE employees

When things go wrong during the delivery of care to patients it affects staff also.

It is important that all staff involved in, or affected by patient safety incidents can access immediate and on-going practical and emotional support.

If you experience a patient safety incident and need help please talk to your line manager. Your manager will talk with you and give you any information you may need.

Other supports available to you are:

Employee Assistance Programme

Occupational Health

Critical Incident Stress Management

Open Disclosure Policy

Open disclosure is a core professional requirement anchored in professional ethics.  We must communicate effectively with our patients in a compassionate, empathic and thoughtful manner at all times especially following patient safety incidents.

This is a crucial part of the therapeutic relationship with patients.  If done well it can mitigate anxiety and enhance the patient’s trust in our staff, our organisation, and our health care system.

Patient Safety Incidents

Patient safety incidents include events that:

  • cause harm
  • cause no harm
  • are near misses

Revised policy

The HSE Directorate approved the revised open disclosure policy on 6 March 2019.

The revised policy involved consultation with and feedback from:

  • HSE services
  • the DOH
  • the State Claims Agency, and
  • patient representative groups including patients and families affected by CervicalCheck.
  • The policy incorporates recommendations from the Scoping Enquiry into the Cervical Check Screening programme.

The policy is aligned with:

  • Part 4 of the Civil Liability Amendment Act 2017 and the 2018 regulations accompanying Part 4 of this Act
  • the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, and
  • the HSE Incident Management Framework 2018

Please read a summary of the policy here

Please read the full policy document here

Open Disclosure Meetings

Following a patient safety incident it is important to meet with the patient within 24 hours or as soon as possible after the incident to:

  • acknowledge what has happened
  • say you are sorry
  • provide the facts available, and
  • provide reassurance about on-going care and treatment

Open disclosure may involve meeting with the patient on one or many occasions depending on the level of harm that occurred.


An updated open disclosure training programme is available to all health and social care services.  

To access training please contact the Open Disclosure Lead for your area.

There are Open Disclosure Leads in all hospital groups, community healthcare organisations and in the national ambulance service.

Find the Open Disclosure Lead for your area here.  

If you would like to become a trainer please also speak to the Open Disclosure Lead for your area.

Employee resources

There are many resources available to help you to implement open disclosure policy.

To find the resources you need please click on the relevant link below.

If you have a query relating to open disclosure please email the new National Open Disclosure Office at

Useful links: