When doctors say sorry for medical errors

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

A lot of people struggle with making genuine apologies. The more educated a person is and the higher the place of authority they hold, the more difficult it often becomes to say they are sorry. For doctors and other professionals in Virginia, there is an added complication. Many believe that saying sorry may count as an admission of guilt in the event of a lawsuit, so they say nothing. 

In the summer of this year, CBS News reported that almost 40 states now allowed doctors to apologize without it being used against them during a lawsuit. Doctors are not the only health care professionals who might now be able to say sorry without injury to their careers. These laws tend to also extend to even therapists and nurses. This apology can allegedly be made verbally or in writing. 

Some people now speculate about whether or not this could lead to a reduction in lawsuits. Many people choose to sue when medical professionals seem uncaring and unwilling to communicate. This can lead to resentment and frustration as they may also have no idea what resulted in the injury or death. However, one study seems to show that apologies ultimately have no effect on a case going to court. 

One main contribution to this may be the sheer frequency in which medical errors occur. U.S. News believes that it accounts for 10% of American deaths every year. This puts it just behind heart disease and cancer, making it the third most prevalent cause of death in America. Researchers also believe that America is not alone in this. Instead, they see medical errors as a worldwide epidemic. 

After all, to make a mistake is only human. The problem is that in the medical field, that mistake could cost a life. Even worse, many of these mistakes were preventable if people followed protocol, double-checked information and listened more closely to patients.