Protection of the rights of patients in incidents reporting systems

Authors: Herman Nys


The right to safety is a new and emerging patient right. One of the means to promote patient safety is the reporting of adverse events by health care professionals. Such reporting however raises difficult questions: Should it be mandatory or voluntary? Based on legislation or self-regulation? Anonymous or not? Related to litigation and accountability or not? And especially : Is it possible and how to reconcile safe (“blame free”) reporting by health care professionals with the right of patients to be informed of an adverse event that occurred and to be compensated if any damage occurred. Taking the Recommendation (2006) 7 of the Council of Europe as a starting point, this article reviews the Danish law on patient safety and a recent Belgian proposal of a bill on patient safety and offers perspectives to deal with these questions.