Accreditation: Incident Disclosure

October 17, 2022

By Staff

Click here for this week’s Q-Tip!

In the course of providing care, patient safety incidents can occur that result in unintended harm. When harm or a significant risk of harm to a patient happens that is not related to the patient’s illness or considered a known risk of care, the healthcare provider is obligated to discuss the facts of what occurred with the patient, their care partner, or substitute decision maker (SDM).  This process is known as incident disclosure. The Incident Disclosure policy document guides and supports Women’s College Hospital (WCH) healthcare providers based on the following principles:

  • Disclosure should assume the good intentions from all parties involved.
  • Disclosure should consider the patient’s perspective and needs.
  • Disclosure should be transparent and empathetic.
  • Disclosure requires effective communication with the patient/care partner/SDM.
  • Disclosure should be consistent and predictable.
  • Disclosure is an ongoing dialogue with the patient/care partner/SDM before, during and after an incident.

As part of incident disclosure, an expression of sympathy or regret may be provided as well as the provision of emotional and practical support to the patient and if appropriate to their care partner or SDM.

Disclosure is an ongoing process, and in some cases, there may be multiple meetings and discussions with the patient, care partner or SDM.

The Incident Disclosure document also provides practical guidance on what should be disclosed, who should disclose, when it should occur, how it should occur and disclosure documentation requirements.

For additional information or support for incident disclosure please contact the Risk Management at