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Apologizing Does Not Decrease Medical Malpractice Liability, Study Finds

Medical professionals have an obligation to provide competent care to each and every patient. Sadly, this does not always happen. If you have been injured by a medical professional’s negligence, our diligent and hard-working Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys can help you hold the at-fault party accountable. We will investigate the facts of your case and try our best to get you the compensation you deserve.

A new study published in the Stanford Law Review found that laws passed in 39 states over the last twenty years, which were intended to decrease medical malpractice litigation by protecting physicians who apologized for their errors, are not working. The aforementioned laws were passed based on case studies indicating that apologies from physicians to patients could promote healing and encourage patients to settle their claims outside of court. However, new research shows that when a patient is made aware that his or her doctor committed a medical error, the patient’s incentive to sue can actually increase even though the apology itself cannot be used as evidence of malpractice under the apology laws.

For surgeons, the research found that saying sorry did not impact either the number of lawsuits that were filed or the percentage of lawsuits filed that actually went to trial. For non-surgeons, on the other hand, laws requiring an apology had a worse effect. In fact, claims in states with apology law were 46 percent more prone to end up in a lawsuit. The monetary awards to patients of non-surgeons more than doubled in states with apology laws when compared to states without such laws.

When you or someone you love suffers an injury during, or as the result of, medical treatment, it can be difficult to know what to do next. Under Maryland law, medical professionals who make an error or are careless can be held accountable through a medical malpractice claim. In all medical malpractice lawsuits, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (injured party). As a practical matter, this means the plaintiff is required to demonstrate the following:

  1. The medical professional who diagnosed or treated you made an error or was careless in the diagnosis or treatment provided;
  2. The medical professional’s specific error or carelessness constitutes a violation of the appropriate standard of care (i.e., the level of care a medical professional in the same specialty would have used in the same situation);
  3. The medical professional’s violation was a direct cause of your injury or made your injury worse; and
  4.  You have suffered damages (i.e., medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) as a result.

Medical errors can have devastating consequences for a patient and his or her family. If you have been injured by the negligence of a medical professional, we can help. At Arfaa Law Group, our seasoned Baltimore medical and surgical malpractice attorneys are committed to providing personalized and detail-oriented representation to each and every Maryland client. We are here to answer your questions and address your concerns every step of the way. To learn more about your legal rights and options, please call us today at 410-889-1850 or contact us online.