What Does I am Sorry Really Mean?

According to legislation recently passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, patients shouldn’t read too much into their doctors apologies.  If the legislation becomes law in Pennsylvania, patients will not be able to use “any benevolent gesture or admission of fault made prior to the commencement of a medical professional liability action” as evidence in a subsequent malpractice lawsuit.

Similar legislation has been passed in many other states.  It is meant to encourage open and honest discussions about medical outcomes between doctors and patients.  However, is it fair?  The Pennsylvania Association of Justice is expressing some concerns.  For example, what if the doctor tells the patient exactly what went wrong and admits to malpractice?  Should that not be admissible?

The bill is now with the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration.