Browse all modules

Open disclosure and what it means for nurses and midwives

CPD Hours



Law, ethics and professional responsibilities
Managing people and resources
All Modules


Open disclosure is about openly discussing with patients, their family, carers and other support persons, incidents that result in harm to a patient while receiving health care.

Since 2003 all Australian governments have endorsed a policy of open disclosure in health care. Open disclosure is part of standard 1 of the Australian Quality and Safety Commission’s National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards.

In December 2013, the Australian Quality and Safety Commission released the Australian Open Disclosure Framework. All Australian governments and numerous health profession bodies have endorsed the Framework. The Framework was introduced for the purpose of providing consistency across all health services in the country, not just those requiring accreditation pursuant to the NSQHS standards.

The Australian Open Disclosure Framework is intended for use by all health facilities and health practitioners have particular responsibilities under the framework.  This module discusses the framework and sets out the steps to take when an incident occurs that causes harm to a patient.

What is required of each individual will depend on the role of the individual. For those nurses and midwives in a managerial role, we recommend undertaking this module and then read the Australian Open Disclosure Framework, supporting materials and resources: Implementing and practising open disclosure: Guide for health service managers.

It provides specific steps to guide managers in open disclosure.

The Australian Open Disclosure Framework also provides a ‘Clinician disclosure’ discussion document. The document is about the initial discussion with a patient and/or their support person following a patient safety incident. This will be discussed in the module. The module is aimed at all nursing and midwifery clinicians and nurses and midwives with managerial responsibilities.  Note that in the context of open disclosure, the term ‘clinicians’ includes registered and non-registered clinicians, allied health workers, and students working under the supervision of clinicians.
This module is based on the resources provided by the Commission. All information has been adapted from or taken directly from the Commission’s resources. To view the resources and for more information go to and refer to the references.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand why open disclosure is important.
  • Understand the principles of open disclosure.
  • Know when open disclosure is required.
  • Be able to proceed with an open disclosure discussion.

Other modules to explore