The Australian Open Disclosure Framework

The Australian Open Disclosure Framework provides a nationally consistent basis for open disclosure in Australian health care.

Australian Open Disclosure Framework

The framework is designed to enable health service organisations and clinicians to communicate openly with patients when health care does not go to plan.


Australian Open Disclosure Framework endorsement

The Australian Open Disclosure Framework has been formally endorsed by Australian Health Ministers.

It has been officially endorsed by the following professional organisations:

  • Australian College of Nursing
  • Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
  • Royal Australian and New Zealand Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia

It is supported by the:

  • Australasian College of Emergency Medicine
  • Royal College of Pathologists of Australia

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has officially recognised a supporting document Implementing the Australian Open Disclosure Framework in Small Practices as an Accepted Clinical Resource.


Review of the implementation of the Framework

The Commission undertook a review to better understand the extent to which the Australian Open Disclosure Framework is being implemented in Australian health services. The final report presents the findings of the review, identifies perceived implementation gaps, potential areas for improvements, and suggested strategies at a national, state and territory, and health service organisation level.

A mixed-method approach was used to inform this review. This included: a review of state and territory open disclosure policies and programs; targeted interviews and consultations; consumer focus groups; and a national online survey.

Findings suggest that while considerable work has been undertaken by states, territories and health services to raise the priority of open disclosure, and have policies directing open disclosure implementation, challenges remain. Health services appear to be at different levels of maturity, with inconsistencies in relation to how the Framework was translated into practice.

Key issues identified included:

  • Ensuring there is a supportive, no-blame, just culture, where open disclosure is valued by the health service and healthcare providers as part of routine practice
  • Integration of open disclosure into governance systems and local clinical processes to support the workforce to detect, assess and report incidents, and ensure that the appropriate level of open disclosure response occurs (lower-level/higher-level)
  • Ongoing training and education, that is focused on effective, respectful and compassionate communication, and ensuring the workforce is equipped with the knowledge and skills to undertake all levels of open disclosure responses
  • Support for people who have experienced harm, their support people, and the health workforce, and ensuring it is provided at the right time and that it meets their needs and expectations.

A suggested national strategy identified in the report was to update Commission resources to support consistent implementation of the open disclosure process aligned with principles of the Australian Open Disclosure Framework and increase consumer awareness. Updated consumer, clinician and health service resources will be available in 2021.

Access the full report: 


History

The Australian Open Disclosure Framework was endorsed by the Commission in March 2013. It replaced the Open Disclosure Standard (now obsolete) which was released in 2003 and was the first nation-wide open disclosure policy in the world.

A review of the Open Disclosure Standard in 2011-12 preceded development of the Australian Open Disclosure Framework.