Medical professionals face immense pressure in their daily work, and they have to make decisions all the time that can have life-altering consequences for their patients.
However, good outcomes are never guaranteed. When something goes wrong, it may or may not have anything to do with the physician’s actions – but physicians have, historically speaking, been both unwilling and unable to express their sympathies and regrets over a situation for fear of sounding like they’re admitting fault. That can easily open the door to a medical malpractice claim.
However, research has found that patients are actually more likely to consider litigation when a physician doesn’t demonstrate remorse for an error (or a perceived error).
Michigan has developed a solution to this problem
This is why so-called “apology laws” have come into being – both here and in other states.
To encourage open and honest dialogue between patients and physicians, Michigan has a statute known as the “I’m Sorry” apology law. In short, the law prevents patients and their families from using the doctor’s expression of sympathy for their situation or condolences over a negative medical outcome as evidence in a medical malpractice suit.
It’s important to note that the statute does not protect other statements or gestures by the physician. There’s no blanket protection for admissions of fault or negligence, so physicians need to be wary of language that could be interpreted as acceptance of liability.
A medical malpractice claim is distressing and disheartening, especially when you know that you’ve done everything in your power to prevent harm to a patient. If you’re facing professional liability over an adverse medical event, legal guidance can help.