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Posted on 19 Jul 2022
Incident response/review

Amendments to the Health Services Act 1988 (Vic) introduces new legal obligations that will require relevant Victorian health service entities to apologise to patients and their families or carers when the patient has suffered a serious adverse patient safety event. The reforms also introduce new protections for serious adverse patient safety reviews.

Statutory duty of candour means that from 30 November 2022, relevant health services will be required to:

  • Apologise to any person seriously harmed while receiving care
  • Explain what went wrong
  • Describe what action will be taken and improvements put in place.

Getting ready

We’re here to support health services to prepare and implement the changes.

Launch for health service leaders

SCV CEO Prof Mike Roberts will officially launch the changes on 18 August at an online session for health service CEOs, board members and other leaders.

Webinars for healthcare workers

We’re running three online sessions to help clinicians prepare for implementation.

Register for one of these sessions: 

We’re developing a range of resources including Victorian Duty of Candour Guidelines which will outline the relevant requirements health services must undertake to discharge the duty of candour. We're also developing other resources and online learning modules that you can access in your own time. These will be launched in the coming months. Subscribe or follow us on social media to find out when they’re available.

Legal protections for adverse event reviews

Building on the Australian Open Disclosure Framework, the amendments also introduce legal protections around health service apologies under the duty of candour and protections for serious adverse patient safety event reviews. This means that an apology will not constitute an admission of fault or liability or be relevant in a civil proceeding. And any documents created as part of a protected review will also not be admissible in a legal proceeding.

These reforms will help foster an open and honest culture where errors and harm are effectively identified, discussed and reviewed, and where consumers are kept informed.  

Background

The introduction of the statutory duty of candour is the final legislative reform to be implemented from the Targeting Zero report, which found there was a lack of open disclosure with patients. Our Expert Working Group consulted widely and looked at laws in other states and internationally to ensure the reforms are effective.

These reforms will improve transparency in Victoria’s health system by encouraging health professionals to report adverse outcomes, and communicate openly and honestly with patients and their families when things have gone wrong in their care.