Disclosure of Adverse Events

Adverse Events occur every day in every healthcare institution creating a challenge to transparently and honestly share conversations surrounding the events with patients, families, and colleagues.  At risk is loss of trust, honesty, and integrity of the healthcare team with the patient at the center of the team. In addition, the emotional strain which occurs at the individual level following an adverse event can lead to devastating consequences.  In addition to excellent core communication skills including mindfulness, reflective listening, accurate and efficient information gathering, joint-agenda setting, and recognizing emotion and responding appropriately, unique skills to recognize and respond appropriately to different types of adverse events are necessary.  Principles and skills to disclose adverse events in the following situations are introduced:


  • When there is an obvious error and obvious outcome
  • When there is uncertainty or a suspected error by a colleague
  • How to agree to disagree in certain clinical situations


The curriculum also explores the emotional impact on the caregiver involved in a medical error, understanding why patients and their families sue, including who is at the highest risk of being sued, and understanding the link between open disclosure and litigation.  


Approaches to develop the necessary infrastructure to support clinical teams when more challenging adverse events occur are explored.  In addition, the option of implementing a Care for the Caregiver program is introduced to provide emotional support for caregivers involved in an adverse event and create a culture fostering open, transparent, and honest sharing of adverse events.