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Duty of candour

02 March 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 3


Health professionals should strive for best practice, but it is inevitable that sometimes things go wrong. Sophie Windsor discusses the statutory duty of candour following patient safety incidents.

Following the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where there was a gross failure to review and take action on patient safety incidents and listen to concerns raised by the public, a public inquiry (Francis, 2013) recommended that all health care providers have a statutory duty of candour (DOC) with their service users when a reportable patient safety incident has occurred that has resulted in death, severe harm, moderate harm or prolonged psychological harm. The DOC is essentially a process of talking openly and honestly with a service user and their family when harm has occurred owing to an act or omission by a health care provider. The DOC process should occur regardless of whether the service user has complained or is unaware that a patient safety incident involving them has occurred. The DOC process includes being open and honest with colleagues and employers, taking part in reviews and investigations and raising concerns where appropriate. This supports our professional responsibility as midwives under The Code (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2015) to cooperate with all investigations and audits.

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