Examples of Open Disclosure Scenarios

  1. Surgical Complication: Imagine a patient undergoing a routine procedure in an Australian hospital. During the surgery, an unforeseen complication arises, leading to a longer-than-expected recovery period. Rather than withholding information, the surgical team initiates open disclosure. They meet with the patient and their family, explaining the nature of the complication, why it occurred, and the steps to address it. This open and honest communication makes the patient feel informed, supported and reassured about their ongoing care.
  2. Medication Error: In another scenario, a patient receives medication in a healthcare facility. Unfortunately, they are administered the wrong medication due to a mix-up in prescriptions. Recognizing the seriousness of the error, the healthcare team promptly engages in open disclosure. They approach the patient and their family, acknowledging the mistake, explaining its cause, and outlining the immediate actions to mitigate potential harm. This transparent communication addresses the immediate issue and allows for collaborative decision-making regarding the patient’s future treatment plan.
  3. Diagnostic Misinterpretation: Consider a situation where a patient undergoes diagnostic testing for a suspected medical condition. Following the test, the results are misinterpreted, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Upon discovering the error, the healthcare team opts for open disclosure. They meet with the patient and their family, openly discussing the misinterpretation, clarifying the correct diagnosis, and discussing the implications for the patient’s care going forward. Through this transparent dialogue, the patient understands their medical situation and can actively participate in decisions regarding their treatment and follow-up care.