A recent CNN article took a look at what is becoming an increasingly important issue in the medical profession—the power of physician apologies when mistakes have been made. It has been known for some time that adding a touch of transparency and sincerity can go a long way in managing medical malpractice litigation, and 36 states currently have laws promoting physician apologies.
Michigan is among the states which have passed measures which prevent physician apologies from being used in court. Such measures are, of course, for the benefit of patients, but it has also been shown that hospitals can benefit through swifter resolution of cases. The key, according to proponents, is that patients are less likely to become litigious when they feel a physician is being honest with them.
As we’ve previously mentioned on this blog, medical malpractice litigation is not always the right answer in every case of medical error, and a cost-benefit analysis needs to be done before pursuing a medical malpractice case. Most potential medical malpractice cases , actually, don’t make it to trial, partially because many cases are either dropped or settled.
There’s nothing wrong with settling, of course. In some cases, it is the most sensible course of action a patient could take. On the other hand, a patient should never sell himself or herself short. Sometimes a meritorious claim really should be pursued and a physician should be held accountable in court for their negligence. Knowing when and when not to pursue litigation is not always easy, though, and it is important to have the advice and guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.