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Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra

versión impresa ISSN 1137-6627


MIRA-SOLVES, J.J. et al. In case of an adverse event don’t forget to say sorry. Anales Sis San Navarra [online]. 2017, vol.40, n.2, pp.279-290. ISSN 1137-6627.


Disclosing information to a patient who is a victim of an adverse event (AE) presents some particularities depending on the legal framework in the country where the AE occurred. The aim of this study is to identify the limits and conditions when apologizing to a patient who has suffered an AE.


A consensus conference involving 26 professionals from different autonomous communities, institutions, and profiles (health, insurance, inspection, academic) with accredited experience in patient safety management systems and criminal law.


Open disclosure should include an apology expressed in neutral terms (showing empathy and regret for what has happened) without the informant being identified as responsible for the damage, blaming third parties, or offering compensation on behalf of the insurance company. The professional who feels most directly involved in the incident is usually the least likely to report it and apologise. The informant profile must conform to the type and severity of the AE. The rules and conditions of liability insurance advise against providing specific information on the amount of compensation.


The apology should be offered in terms of the regulatory framework in force in each country. In Spain, an appropriate response of empathy for the patient is warranted, expressing regret for what happened (apologising), which can facilitate the relationship with the patient, mitigate their mistrust, and reduce the number of disputes.

Palabras clave : Adverse effects; Patient safety; Disclosure; Ethics.

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