'Apology' Legislation Could Inhibit Medical Malpractice Suits

Recently passed legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would prohibit malpractice plaintiffs from using apologies in lawsuits could hurt victims of malpractice seeking restitution in the courts. If the bill becomes law, it would make inadmissible “any benevolent gesture or admission of fault made prior to the commencement of a medical professional liability action” concerning an “unexpected outcome.”

Republican State Rep. Keith Gillespie, the main sponsor of the bill, says words like “I’m sorry” can come back to haunt medical professionals when used to allege that a physician has admitted fault. Gillespie maintains that the bill does nothing to prevent lawsuits from being filed, and simply allows medical professionals in hospitals and nursing homes to have “frank, open conversation” after a bad outcome. Similar “apology” legislation has already been passed in 35 other states.

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