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Should doctors apologize for their errors?

A recent study showed that apology laws, intended to decrease the amount of medical malpractice lawsuits by dissipating patients' anger, has had the opposite effect. Apologies have led patients to question their treatment, and have signaled maybe something did go wrong. Although an unintended consequence, this is a positive step for patient safety. Where a doctor or other medical professional has caused you or a loved one significant harm as the result of a preventable medical mistake, they should be held accountable.

Apology laws designed to prevent lawsuits, by letting doctors apologize without fear that their words will be used as an admission of liability may be missing the point. Where a person truly feels bad about their actions, the motivation should be transparent. Apologies shouldn't be a defense strategy to avoid legal liability. Where an error occurs that causes harm, families are often left with a lifetime of medical bills and expenses that but for the fault of a doctor, hospital or other health care provider, they would not have to pay. Filing a lawsuit in order to recouping these costs is often not an emotional decision but a financial one. Further, bringing a lawsuit may work to improve safety and pressure hospitals and physicians to implement measures to reduce the number of medical mistakes.

For more information, or if you or a loved one has suffered harm as the result of a preventable medical error, please contact the experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.



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