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An apology may make it all better for medical malpractice

At some point in our lives, we will all likely need medical assistance in some form or fashion. Regardless of the circumstances underlying the medical care, people tend to trust what doctors say and when that trust is breached that is when patients file medical malpractice lawsuits. Medical professionals are sued for medical malpractice when a patient feels that the doctor, or nurse or other medical personnel did not do what they were supposed to do medically and that inaction resulted in harm to said patient. Medical malpractice claims are based in tort law.

In Pennsylvania, a new law is being proposed and most likely going to be enacted whereby medical professionals can apologize to patients without fear of retribution. Because medical malpractice cases are such sensitive cases, doctors are often reluctant to speak to patient complaints and/or concerns on a personal level because that conversation may be used against them in the future. The “apology” law however takes this element away. However, the law will not insulate a medical professional from a suit where harm has occurred.

Fostering a better, happier, more comfortable relationship between doctors and patients is important especially in terms of possibly lowering the number of medical malpractice claims that are heard by the courts. The law will go a long way to enable more open communication in this arena but it is imperative to note that malpractice claims surrounding a failure to diagnose and medical professional negligence are still viable claims and will be heard by the courts.

Although a medical malpractice suit is a difficult suit to prove, it is within a patient’s rights to pursue such a suit if he or she feel it is warranted regardless of any type of apology from the doctor.

Source: Lancaster Online, “Can physicians’ apologies curb malpractice lawsuits?,” Cindy Stauffer, Dec. 15, 2013