Proposed new legislation to be published today will require the mandatory open disclosure of serious patient safety incidents.

The Patient Safety Bill contains a list of specified patient safety incidents which must be reported to the health watchdog - the Health Information and Quality Authority - and other regulators.

It also provides for a disclosure to be made to the patient or a family member regarding then information known to the health services at the time.

The Patient Safety Bill will cover public and private facilities.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the legislation will mean a culture of open disclosure where medical professionals are supported and where patients' voices are heard.

He said the aim is to have a service focused on openness, learning and improvement rather than blame.

Among the cases where open disclosure must be made are where:

  • Surgery is performed on the wrong patient or wrong site resulting in unintended death
  • The wrong surgical procedure is performed on a patient resulting in unintended death
  • The untended retention of a foreign object in a patient after surgery resulting in an unanticipated death
  • Any unanticipated death in a health services provider directly related to medical treatment not wholly attributable to the illness
  • Unanticipated patient death linked to medication error
  • Unanticipated death of a woman while pregnant or child born without a fatal foetal abnormality

Hospitals and other health facilities will have to ensure they have the correct governance systems in place to support health practitioners in making disclosures.