Several States Pushing for Im Sorry Law for Doctors
Lawmakers in several states are now considering laws that would allow physicians to apologize to patients and not fear that that their expressions of condolences or apologies will later be used against them in court as an admission of liability. Doctors’ apologies and admissions of error can sometimes be used as key evidence against them in court, so, in the past, doctors have been hesitant to say the words, “I’m sorry” for fear that these words would later haunt them in court. The proposed laws would remove health care providers’ apologies, expressions of sympathy, and condolences as admissions of liability in court.
There are nine states currently considering bills that would allow physicians to apologize when things go wrong without fear of having those words used against them later. At least 27 other states have already passed similar laws according to the American Medical Association.
This recent wave of “I’m sorry” laws is part of a movement in the medical industry to encourage doctors to promptly inform patients of errors and to apologize when an apology is warranted. In the past, doctors have been trained and warned to never admit errors or apologize in case a patient later sues.