Comm Eye Health Vol. 32 No. 106 2019 pp 40. Published online 10 September 2019.

Key messages – When things go wrong in eye care

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Be honest with patients

  • Explain the risks and possible visual outcomes of the procedure.
  • Obtain written consent from the patient.
  • Keep accurate records of all the care given to a patient.
  • If something goes wrong, tell the patient as soon as possible.
Female eye care worker in discussion with patients
© Paul Courtright

Say that you are sorry

  • Saying that you are sorry makes a big difference to the patient.
  • It does not mean that you are at fault, or that you accept legal liability. A sincere apology may reduce the risk of legal action.
  • When you apologise, explain what went wrong, how you will minimise or rectify the damage caused and how you plan to ensure no-one else will be harmed
Male patient sitting at the end of the bed with head in hands
© Wavebreakmedia

Support others and keep on learning

  • Create a working environment where it is safe to admit mistakes.
  • Support health workers who have been involved in a medical error.
  • Record and investigate errors so you and your team can learn from them and prevent future errors.
  • Invite an external review if you need more input.
  • Keep up to date with your professional and legal responsibilities.
hospital staff meeting to have a discussion
© Shafiqul Alam Kiron Sightsavers