Openness and honesty when things go wrong: The professional duty of candour

The professional duty of candour

Every healthcare professional must be open and honest with patients when something that goes wrong with their treatment or care causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress. This means that healthcare professionals must:

  • tell the patient (or, where appropriate, the patient’s advocate, carer or family) when something has gone wrong
  • apologise to the patient (or, where appropriate, the patient’s advocate, carer or family)
  • offer an appropriate remedy or support to put matters right (if possible)
  • explain fully to the patient (or, where appropriate, the patient’s advocate, carer or family) the short and long term effects of what has happened.

Healthcare professionals must also be open and honest with their colleagues, employers and relevant organisations, and take part in reviews and investigations when requested. They must also be open and honest with their regulators, raising concerns where appropriate. They must support and encourage each other to be open and honest, and not stop someone from raising concerns.