The Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2017- Open Disclosure; If You Please

Author:Mr Richard O'Brien
Profession:Ronan Daly Jermyn

The Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2017, has passed both houses of the Oireachtas and has recently been signed into law by the President. However, the Act still awaits a commencement order. The main changes being established by the Act are in relation to:

Open Disclosure Periodic Payment Orders Pre-Action Protocols In this article, I will deal with the one main provisions of the Act, open disclosure. In that respect, prior to the enactment of the Bill, there was much debate on whether this duty should be mandatory or voluntary. Ultimately it has been passed into law that this duty should be voluntary. 

Open Disclosure

The Act provides that a health care service provider should inform a patient of any patient safety incidents and the Act sets out what information should be given to a patient when there is a patient safety incident while a patient is in their care.

Key Definitions

The definitions of a "health practitioner" and a "health service provider" are very broad and capture the full range of public and private health services and include:

(a) a registered medical practitioner within the meaning of the Act of 2007 or a medical practitioner practising medicine pursuant to section 50 of that Act, (b) a registered dentist within the meaning of the Act of 1985, (c) a registered pharmacist, or registered pharmaceutical assistant, within the meaning of the Pharmacy Act 2007, (d) a registered nurse, or registered midwife, within the meaning of the Act of 2011,

A patient is defined as, "in relation to a health service provider, a person to whom a health service is, or has been provided."

A "relevant person" is defined by this section as a "person who is a close family member, spouse, civil partner, cohabitant of the patient or someone nominated in writing by them thereby authorising that person to receive clinical information in relation to that patient."

A "patient safety incident" is defined as:

An incident which has caused injury or harm to a patient which was unintentional or not anticipated.  An incident where no actual injury or harm resulted but the health service provider has reasonable grounds for the belief that the patient was at risk of being subjected to unintentional or unanticipated injury or harm An incident where a patient was prevented from being subjected to unintentional or unanticipated injury or harm and the health care provider reasonably believes that had such prevention not taken place that the patient would have suffered...

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