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Report exploring patient views on duty of candour published

10 July 2024

Research commissioned to support a better understanding about implementing the duty of candour for patients and osteopaths has been published.

Community Research, who have special expertise in working with patients, were commissioned by GOsC and the General Chiropractic Council to explore how to manage the issues that can arise when things have, or may have gone wrong in the contexts of osteopathy and chiropractic, therefore, fulfilling their duty of candour.

The Duty of candour, outlined at Standard D3 of the Osteopathic Practice Standards says: 'You must be open and honest with patients, fulfilling your duty of candour.’ Supporting guidance says: ‘If something goes wrong with a patient’s care which causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress, you must tell the patient, offer an explanation as to what has happened and the effects of this, together with an apology, if appropriate, and a suitable remedy or support.’ 

The research aimed to better understand patient’s views and to support osteopaths to have positive conversations when things go wrong, especially in osteopathy where serious adverse events are rare and there can be uncertainty, looking at how best to have this kind of difficult conversation.

The report findings highlight that patients prefer clarity, honesty, openness, transparency and dialogue, these were key words from the discussion. Practitioners should take responsibility for mistakes and be clear about what went wrong, together with any clear actions in dialogue with the patient. Patients highlighted the importance of transparency as a way to build trust between the patient and practitioner. 

The research also reflected patient thoughts about apologies when things go wrong, with patients highlighting the need for apologies to be tailored to their particular individual needs.

Fiona Browne, GOsC’s Director of Education, Standards and Development said ‘This report outlines useful case studies with patients’ responses to them. Reflecting on the case studies can make great CPD for osteopaths when thinking about communication and dialogue with patients in difficult situations,  tailoring discussion to the needs of the individual patient in front of them. Please let us know what you think about the report and the case studies. Please also contact me if you are interested to help us produce more tailored supportive resources for osteopaths.’