When Pennsylvania residents seek medical attention, they rely on the education and experience of those treating them to provide them with the best care possible. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes are made, or a negligent action is performed that can lead to serious injury or illness. When this happens, patients may feel overwhelmed, angry and lost, and may choose to pursue medical malpractice claims.
Even in the face of these claims, patients often feel that they have been violated, and that they did not receive an adequate apology. This has begged the question of whether doctors could apologize to a patient for an unexpected outcome without admitting guilt in situations that are at times beyond their control. This fear of admitting guilt has led many doctors to simply stay silent when their kindness and support may have been needed.
In an effort to prevent animosity, and reduce the number of medical malpractice claims being filed in our state, new law has recently gone into effect that prevents doctor apologies from being held against them in medical malpractice claims. That is to say that the new law will allow doctors to apologize to their patients without that apology being an admission of guilt. The new law does not mean that patients who feel that they have been harmed cannot sue their doctor, but rather it is designed to help promote a healthy level of compassion and communication between doctors and patients.
According to a recent report, doctors who apologize and make an effort to support their patients and families are less likely to be the subject of a medical malpractice suit. Even so, well-educated and highly experienced doctors can make mistakes, and these mistakes could cost lives. Even if under the new law a doctor cannot admit guilt by apologizing, they are still tasked with providing quality care and taking the correct steps if a mistake has been made.
In Pennsylvania, medical malpractice claims are taken seriously. For patients, the correct steps for them could include filing a medical malpractice claim. These claims can be complex, however, which is why it may be beneficial for anyone pursuing such a matter to investigate their legal rights and find the best team of support for their individual case. While an apology can go a long way toward emotional healing, it can only go so far when physical injuries or illnesses exist.
Source: lancasteronline.com, Can physicians' apologies curb malpractice lawsuits?, Cindy Stauffer, Dec. 15, 2013