Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 35–44 | Cite as

New Zealand District Health Boards’ Open Disclosure Policies: A Qualitative Review

  • Stuart McLennanEmail author
  • Jennifer Moore
Original Research


Background: New Zealand health and disability providers are expected to have local open disclosure policies in place, however, empirical analysis of these policies has not been undertaken. Aim: This study aims to (1) examine the scope and content of open disclosure policies in New Zealand (2) compare open disclosure policies in New Zealand, and (3) provide baseline results for future research. Methods: Open disclosure policies were requested from all twenty New Zealand District Health Boards in June 2016. A total of twenty-one policies were received, with nineteen policies included in the review. The data were analysed using conventional content analysis. Areas of identified guidance were categorised categorized under the headings: 1) identification of an adverse event, 2) actions before disclosure, 3) disclosure of harm, and 4) actions after disclosure. Results: A total of forty-six distinct areas of guidance could be categorized under the different phases of the open disclosure life-cycle. Conclusion: This review has identified significant unwarranted heterogeneity and important gaps in open disclosure documents in New Zealand which urgently needs to be addressed. Open disclosure policies which are both flexible and specific should enhance the likelihood that injured patients’ needs will be met.


Medical Errors Open Disclosure Policies New Zealand 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Biomedical EthicsUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Faculty of LawUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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