On Page 7 of Issue number 7 of Connect,
Dr Richard Wilson, Senior Medical Advisor, SA, Avant writes about open disclosure. The
advice seems to be at odds with Section 17.1 of my Avant policy, which is
titled, ‘No Admission, a policy condition which precludes ‘any admission ... in
relation to any claim’. I would be grateful for further clarification on this
Dr John Lamb, QLD
Dear Dr Lamb,
Clause 17.1 of Avant’s Practitioner Indemnity Insurance Policy (version 4.1) policy talks in terms of not making an admission in
relation to any ‘… claim or request for indemnity covered by this policy without our prior written consent’. This part of
the policy comes into play when there is a civil claim for damages by the
patient and/or the member has requested an indemnity under their policy. A
civil claim will usually arise well after open disclosure, which usually takes
place soon after the adverse event. So in my experience there is usually no
‘Claim’ to compromise by an admission.
In essence it is the compromising of an articulated claim
for compensation or damages that clause 17.1 is aimed at.
At Avant, we have long supported open disclosure and
contributed to working groups that developed the Open Disclosure Standard and
Framework, and the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission’s Open Disclosure
sorry is not only good patient care but it’s the right thing to do. Open
disclosure is not about apportioning blame to yourself or others. Rather, it’s
about informing a patient about what has gone wrong, ameliorating any harm to
the patient and learning from the experience.
All jurisdictions in Australia have ‘apology laws’ –
statutory provisions that protect statements of apology or regret made after
incidents from being used in various legal contexts. The legislation aims to
foster an environment where doctors can feel comfortable expressing regret to
If there is an incident involving an adverse outcome, visit
our Medico-legal Advisory Service page
in the first instance or call 1800 128 268 for advice.
Head of Practice, Legal (NSW), Avant
For more information on open disclosure and Avant’s
position, see Open disclosure: how to say sorry safely.
The content is intended only to provide a general overview and
does it constitute legal advice. You should seek legal or other professional
advice before acting or relying on any of the content.
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