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Patient Experience - June 2019 - Subscribe to Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Outpatient Surgery Magazine, providing current information on Surgical Services, Surgical Facility Administration, Outpatient Surgery News and Trends, OR Excellence and more.

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9 8 • O U T PA T I E N T S U R G E R Y M A G A Z I N E • J U N E 2 0 1 9 I t's human nature to want to apologize. When we cut some- one off in traffic, when we forget to follow up on an email, when we say something that we shouldn't have, we all want to apologize and make amends. But in the world of medicine — and medical malpractice — "I'm sorry" has always been a bit more complicated. In the medical community, those words have always represented a difficult paradox: You want to express remorse to your patients, but you also don't want to say something that will come back to bite you in the court of law. If you're a doctor who's made a mistake, what should you do? In response to this question, nearly 40 states have implemented so-called apology laws to give practitioners the ability to express condolences to patients without legal repercussions. When states pass these apolo- gy laws, they often list the opportunity to reduce lawsuits and encour- age settlements as top priorities. My colleagues and I have studied apology laws (osmag.net/sGZ7Nh), and we've found no evidence that they are reducing lawsuits and encouraging settlements. In some cases, they When Sorry Doesn't Cut It Apologizing won't make your malpractice problems disappear. Patient Affairs Benjamin J. McMichael, JD, PhD • CAREFUL SPEECH Most medical apology laws allow you to say, "I'm sorry," but they won't protect statements that admit fault. Jason Meehan

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