Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Will apologies actually reduce numbers of malpractice claims?

One woman claimed that there would have been no medical malpractice lawsuit if someone from the medical center had just spoken to her about what had occurred. Instead, she ended up going to court and winning a $7 million birth injury lawsuit.

It now appears that many states are implementing what are called disclosure-and-offer programs to open up communication between patients and doctors regarding medical mistakes that have been made. While doctors will offer apologies to patients, the patients will in turn agree that the apology cannot be used in court.

These sorts of programs are now becoming part of tort reform efforts by various states. And whether the claims that such a program will actually cut legal costs is correct, we can likely expect that more such programs to be implemented in every state including Pennsylvania.

One reason to remain skeptical is because open communications by medical providers with patients regarding medical errors is still missing. A study recently found that only two percent of the time do patients find out about medical mistakes right after such an error occurs.

It's possible that such communications about medical errors only concerns those errors that would have been discovered anyway, or that the mistakes revealed were minor enough that the doctors were not worried about such errors becoming the subject of a lawsuit.

Medical malpractice attorneys are in the business of helping out those individuals that have been injured and suffered actual costs due to medical mistakes. That an apology is made does not always take away the fact that individuals still suffered grievous injury, have had to expend tremendous sums in medical expenses and for other services, or will continue to remain disabled into the future or for an entire lifetime.

Source: Fierce Healthcare, "Better communication vital to malpractice reform," by Alicia Caramenico, Jan. 31, 2013

  • Please speak to our Pittsburgh lawyers regarding medical malpractice before agreeing to anything not being used in court.

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