Does Doctor Apology Imply Guilt?
When a medical professional makes a mistake that unintentionally harms a patient, apologizing for that mistake is often perceived as an admission of guilt; however, legally speaking, this is not always the case. Here, the medical malpractice attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos discuss the effects that apologies have in regard to medical malpractice cases.
When an error occurs in everyday life, an apology and restitution are expected. In health care, when a medical error occurs, disclosure and apology are often foregone, for fear that such statements would constitute an admission of guilt and leave a medical professional or company liable for damages caused. Read on to learn more about the introduction of “apology laws,” and how they define what may or may not be considered an admission of guilt.
Defining Apology Laws
In an effort to allow medical professionals to extend sympathy to their patients and resolve issues without legal intervention, many states have adopted “apology laws,” that prevent apologetic statements from being used as an admission of guilt. To date, 36 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have apology laws that prohibit certain statements, expressions or other evidence related to disclosure, from being admissible in a lawsuit.
Understanding Maryland Apology Laws
In Maryland, the law (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-920) states that, “an expression of regret or apology made by or on behalf of the health care provider, including an expression of regret or apology made in writing, orally, or by conduct, is inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest.” However, an admission of liability or fault that is part of or in addition to an apology is admissible in a medical malpractice claim. If you believe a medical professional has made an admission of liability, and not only an apology, it is important to consult with a medical malpractice attorney, so they may accurately determine whether the statement is legally admissible.
Determining How to Proceed After a Medical Professional Has Extended an Apology
Full disclosure to a patient is the ethically and professionally responsible course of action for any medical professional. Offering an apology with disclosure can have profound healing effects for all parties involved and help to create a positive rapport between patient and provider, as well as facilitate forgiveness and provide the basis for reconciliation.
However, accepting an apology from a medical professional does not rule out the possibility of seeking restitution for damages. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a negligence by a medical professional who apologized, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The medical malpractice attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos can help—our law firm has been serving the injured victims and their families in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and Tennessee for more than 50 years, and we remain intent on protecting the rights of our clients. To learn more about medical malpractice and apology laws or to schedule a free consultation, contact The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos today.