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Bill would allow apologies in medical malpractice cases

San Diego physicians and patients may be interested in legislation under consideration in Ohio and the U.S. Congress that would offer more protection for doctors facing lawsuits. Under the proposed legislation, physicians could admit fault to patients and families without the apology being admissible in subsequent medical malpractice proceedings.

A bill currently before the Ohio General Assembly would allow doctors to speak privately to patients or families and acknowledge responsibility for a medical error without the conversation being used in court later on. A similar bill is before the U.S. Congress. Doctors claim the proposed law will open the door to more apologies and answers given to patients, thus reducing number of lawsuits filed by patients looking for answers. The legislation would not prevent lawsuits themselves after an admission. Some trial attorneys argue against the bill, claiming it will lead to perjury when doctors who admitted fault previously would not be required to confirm such admissions under oath.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are available to give financial compensation to victims of medical mistakes. The list of recoverable damages is broad-from physical and mental pain to loss of earning capacity. Compensation may be received for loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship or the cost of hiring someone for household services.

An individual who is injured by a doctor's error deserves full compensation for the mental and physical pain endured after a medical mistake. Medical malpractice suits help provide the financial assistance to assist a victim in beginning the healing process.

Source: UT San Diego, "Ohio bill would shield doctors who say 'My fault'", Andrew Welsh-Huggins, December 1, 2014

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