In addition to a general duty under regulation 20(1) to act in an open and transparent way with patients and their relatives in relation to their care and treatment, there is also a specific duty under regulation 20(2) which requires that:
‘As soon as reasonably practicable after becoming aware that a notifiable safety incident has occurred a registered person must (a) notify the relevant person that the incident has occurred and (b) provide reasonable support to the relevant person in relation to the incident.’
Essentially if harm has been caused by medical treatment, the patient or their family should be informed as soon as possible by the relevant medical practitioner.
But, what exactly is a notifiable patient safety incident (NPSI)?
A NPSI is any unintended or unexpected incident that has occurred during the provision of care or treatment, which has or could result in one of the four harm thresholds: death, serious harm, moderate harm and/or prolonged psychological harm (for a period of over 28 days).
And how do you identify ‘moderate harm’?
Moderate harm is:
- a moderate increase in treatment, which might include an unplanned return to surgery or re-admission; a prolonged episode of care; extra time in hospital or as an outpatient; the cancellation of treatment or transfer to another treatment area; and
- significant, but not permanent, harm.
What does the duty of candour state practitioners must do?
The statute provides that an apology must be given. This should not amount to an admission of liability, but an expression of ‘sorrow or regret’ for the harm that has arisen. The discussion should be in person, and would usually be delivered by the clinician or nurse with overall care of the patient.