‘Sorry’ alone is not sufficient for satisfying the victims

According to an analysis of ownership insurance data, Laws projected by defensive doctors to cut litigation costs of malpractice, are rejected. A study “Sorry is never enough” by the researchers Benjamin McMichael, Kip Viscusi & Larry Van Horn, was manifested in the “Stanford Law Review.”

In order to address the constant increase in healthcare cost, policymakers have made cutting malpractice litigation their target. To achieve this, policymakers have passed laws that encourage doctors to be apologetic when mistakes are committed during treatment.

Van Horn stated:  “The idea is simply that if providers could just say they’re sorry, that’s what patients really want. They really don’t care about punishing the doctor in a financial context, they care about having them express remorse. But what we find is that no, people sue for money. ‘Sorry’ is not enough.”

When researchers dug deep into this, they found out that for surgeons, the difference was made neither in the total claims nor the stake of those claims that came to a halt in courts. But, for non-surgeons, the apology did make a lot of difference. Researchers say that happens because non-surgical mistakes are less apparent than surgical ones.

For surgeons, they found, apology laws made no difference in either the number of claims or the share of those claims that ended up in court. Viscusi added: “The laws do protect providers from having their apology introduced in court as evidence that they were at fault, but apologies also alert the injured patients to the physicians’ errors and the possibility of making a successful claim.”

Clearly apologizing brings benefits to both the patient & the physician. In health systems where training is provided regarding when & how to apologize, fewer payouts & lawsuits happen. Best practices suggested that when an explanation is added into the apology, victims are relatively more pleased.

The findings of the study conclude that proper training and understandable laws could have a potentially greater impact rather than just relying on apology laws.