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Don't expect an apology from your physician: Here's why

One question that has been coming up more frequently as time goes on is whether or not doctors and hospitals should apologize for making medical errors. People are raised to apologize when they do something wrong. It's called taking responsibility.

While patients don't want to hear that a mistake was made, apologizing could be a way to prevent lawsuits. The trouble is that many facilities believe that apologizing immediately makes them liable for injuries; essentially, apologizing is admitting fault.

There are 37 states along with the District of Columbia that exclude apologies from admissibility in court, according to a 2016 article. If a doctor or medical professional recognizes that a medical error was made, it is important for that person to say something as soon as possible in those states, because apologizing won't incriminate them. There is a catch, though.

While 37 states and the District of Columbia do not allow apologies to be used in court, that doesn't mean that admissions of guilt can't be used. In fact, there are only eight states that prevent admissions of fault from being used. This is why many medical providers will not say if there were errors. If they apologize and admit to the errors, they fear that they will be victims of medical malpractice lawsuits. These lawsuits could end their careers.

As a patient, knowing what is being done to prevent harm to yourself and others in the future and being reassured that the parties will be reviewing the error and managing your risk is something that can give you peace of mind. If you can't get that or the help you need, then a lawsuit may be your only option.

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