Disclosure of Harm
Category: Physician-Patient Relationship
Under Review: No
Issued by Council: January 1, 2010
- When a patient suffers harm, with harm being defined as an outcome that negatively affects the patient’s health and/or quality of life, the responsible physician must ensure that the patient receives disclosure of that information.
- If the physician is the only healthcare professional treating the patient, then it is the physician’s responsibility to disclose that information to the patient.
- In a team setting, the physician must cooperate with other members of the team (in the hospital setting this will also include the administration) to identify the most suitable person(s) to disclose that informa tion to the patient.
- In all settings, disclosure of harm is to be considered part of a process that will also address the patient’s immediate and future medical needs, the investigation (if required) of the circumstances that led to the patient suffering harm, and necessary steps to prevent recurrence of the harm if an untoward and avoidable event occurred.
- A physician must determine a patient’s capacity to give consent in accordance with the CPSA standard of practice Assessing the Mental Capacity of a Patient. Disclosure must occur whether the harm is a result of progression of disease, a complication of care or an adverse event and whether the harm was preventable.
The CPSA Standards of Practice are the minimum standards of professional behaviour and ethical conduct expected of all physicians registered in Alberta. Standards of practice are enforceable under the Health Professions Act and will be referenced in the management of complaints and in discipline hearings. About the CPSA Standards of Practice