Apologizing after medical errors is the moral and ethical thing to do, but this attorney says otherwise.
Saying sorry can deny malpractice coverage, says attorney Steven Kern, and from a legal perspective, “saying I’m sorry is an admission. An admission is an exception to the hearsay rule, so anyone who hears it can be called to testify against you, should legal action ensue.”
What about the 35 states that have enacted apology laws? Not good enough says Kern, who adds that “while some of these laws may provide sufficient protection to a physician who wants to apologize, others do not.”
Kern notes that current malpractice laws do not encourage physician apologies. “A law that precludes an apology from admission in a malpractice case can help resolve the problem,” as well as “regulations that prohibit insurance carriers from using an apology to avoid coverage or increase premiums would also encourage honesty and openness.”
Those who push for transparency advocate doctors apologize for their mistakes. After all, it’s the right thing to do.
But is doing the right thing dangerous for your career? I’d be curious to read what other lawyers think about this.