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Apology laws have been passed in more than 30 states in an attempt to reduce malpractice lawsuits. These laws allow for physicians to freely express their condolences to patients or their families for any issues during treatment. Under apology laws, these condolences are not admissible in court. However, recent studies have found that apology laws have not been effective in reducing medical malpractice.
Apology laws were intended to reduce medical malpractice lawsuits by allowing doctors to show empathy and understanding with victims of medical errors. This can have a beneficial psychological effect for both the physician and victim. It also was thought to lessen the financial consequences of malpractice. Studies have found that this, however, is not necessarily the case.
Researchers conducted a study through a malpractice insurer that analyzed over 3,000 malpractice claims. The data included information from 90 percent of all physicians in the United States that focused on a single area of practice. Seventy-five percent of these physicians were surgeons.
Interestingly, while apology laws were intended to reduce malpractice lawsuit rates, they have had a different effect. While no statistically significant effect was found that a surgeon would face a malpractice lawsuit, it was found that they increased the rates that non-surgeon physicians would face lawsuits. This is significant considering that surgeons generally face malpractice lawsuits at an increased rate.
The reasoning discussed for this is that malpractice from a surgeon is far easier to detect for the layman than malpractice from a non-surgeon. However, an apology given by a non-surgeon may alert patients to non-surgical errors that they would otherwise have been unaware of, or at least may not have attributed to malpractice without the explicit apology from their physician.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of medical malpractice, you do not need to fight alone. The Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. are ready to help you every step of the way. From our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey as well as Philadelphia and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Call us at 856-354-9444 or contact us online to speak with a Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyer.