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Medical malpractice: apology laws don’t seem to work

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

Medical errors are a scary reality. Far too often medical professionals make mistakes that harm patients. These mishaps can occur in several ways, including through misdiagnosis, surgical error and medication mistakes. Regardless of how these errors occur, an injured patient may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim in hopes of recovering their damages and imposing accountability. In many of these cases a doctor will flat out apologize for the mistake. But can that be used as evidence of negligence?

Many states, 40 in fact, have laws that disallow an injured patient from using a doctor’s apology as evidence of wrongdoing. These states believe that this fosters doctor/patient relationships and help put doctors’ minds at ease. New York does not have one of these laws, but there have been talks about implementing one. This means that, as the law stands now, if a doctor says “sorry” for not catching a disease earlier, that statement may be submitted to a judge and jury in light of the applicable medical standards and other facts to determine if he or she should be held liable for any damages that resulted from the delay.

One study found that “apology laws” may not have as big of an effect as hoped anyway. That study found that they had no impact on lawsuits filed against surgeons, but that claims against non-surgeons were 46 percent more likely to result in a lawsuit despite the apology laws being in place.

So, what does all of this mean for New Yorkers who have been injured at the hands of a negligent medical professional? It means they need to keep their eyes and ears open, as just about anything can be used as evidence to support their case. Experienced legal professionals know how to gather and present this evidence, whether it be documentary or testimonial in nature, and persuasively present it to juries to maximize victims’ chances of successfully recovering the compensation they deserve.