Lawmakers in nine states are considering measures which would allow physicians to apologize for mistakes without fearing that their apology would be used against them in a malpractice suit. According to American Medical Association research, at least 27 other states have already passed such laws in recent times. The laws are designed to encourage doctors to explain what happened when something goes wrong, inform patients of their options and apologize. Right now, many doctors are warned by attorneys never to admit error, as such admissions can be used against them in court. These "I'm sorry" laws vary from state to state. In some states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho and Maine, doctors can apologize however they see fit. Vermont law only protects doctors who make oral apologies, not written apologies. And Illinois only gives doctors a 72-hour window in which they can safely apologize.
To learn more about this trend:
- read this Houston Chronicle piece