Evidence has shown that when a physician or person apologizes for an error, he or she is less likely to be sued. When physicians apologize, they don’t always do so because they know of this statistic; instead, they are truly sorry for what happened. When someone is hurt, especially for minor injuries, the apology may be all that the patient wants in the first place.
It isn’t until physicians hide their mistakes, refuse to admit to them, or surround themselves with legal counsel that the patient becomes frustrated. Also, if a patient does file a lawsuit, the doctor may be more inclined to settle quickly – since they have already apologized to the patient and admitted guilt.
On the other hand, physicians are afraid to apologize to their patients, especially if they didn’t do anything wrong. This is because they fear that they will be sued for the apology itself, because some people may assume that an apology is an admission of negligence.
What patients may not realize is that there is an apology law in place. This law prevents physicians from having their apologies used against them in a lawsuit. Connecticut does not allow the use of an apology in a civil case. Therefore, if your physician does apologize, the apology cannot be presented as an admittance of guilt in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
An apology, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sue. If you suspect your physician was negligent and you were injured, you have the right to recover compensation – regardless of how many apologies you receive.
It is important to know the difference between remorse and negligence. A physician can regret the outcome of your procedure, but not be negligent. In other words, if your procedure didn’t go as planned, it is not automatically due to malpractice; sometimes, it was simply a risk associated with the procedure.
Medical negligence is an entirely different story.
Medical negligence is a legal element of a malpractice claim. It is the act (or omission) by a medical professional (e.g., nurse, physician, or another healthcare provider) that doesn’t follow the accepted medical standard of care.
If your procedure did not have the intended outcome, but it was due to the physician’s failure to act appropriately, then you would have a negligence claim. Furthermore, negligence itself isn’t a malpractice-worthy case. Instead, you must suffer injury because of that negligence, and then you must prove that the injury wouldn’t have occurred if the physician had acted differently.
Doctors and medical professionals have a duty to their patients. Therefore, they must provide treatment that is in line with the standard of care that other healthcare providers would give – that is, the level and type of care that a competent and skilled medical professional would provide. The professional being compared must have a similar background and skillset. So, a pediatrician could not be compared to an internist, and a dermatologist could not be compared to an ophthalmologist.
If a doctor provides substandard treatment or care – or care that is outside of the accepted medical norms – then that doctor failed his or her duty and is negligent by law.
If you suspect that you suffered an injury due to standard care, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. Contact a medical malpractice attorney to have your case assessed. Even if the physician did or did not apologize, you need to speak with an attorney regarding your potential claim.