Research has shown that, in some cases, when doctors apologize to patients for making a mistake, those patients are less likely to file a malpractice suit. Of course, it depends on how serious the mistake was and whether it can be corrected without any long-term harm.
This is one of the reasons that most states have adopted some type of law that limits the use of expressions of sympathy and even outright apologies for errors as evidence against doctors in medical malpractice claims.
Some states still allow an admission of error or negligence during their apology to be used against them. However, a more generic apology or expression of sympathy wouldn’t be considered evidence of wrongdoing. Other states have broader apology laws that protect anything a doctor says in an apology from being used as evidence of malpractice.
What does New York law say?
New York state currently has no “apology law” at all. Even general expressions of sympathy by a doctor can potentially be used as evidence against them. Of course, if a doctor simply expresses regret that things didn’t turn out as hoped or something along those lines, that wouldn’t be enough on its own for a malpractice suit.
Even though doctors and other medical providers know enough to be cautious about admitting anything that could be interpreted as fault, it’s crucial to listen to everything they say. You never know when they might say something that could help you get more information that can be evidence in a malpractice suit. This is just one reason it’s crucial to listen to your doctors, take notes and ask them to explain things that aren’t clear or that they rush through.
A malpractice suit can provide justice and compensation for patients and families. It may be able to prevent an unfit doctor from harming others. With experienced legal guidance, you can determine whether you have a case.