Legislation heading to the desk of Governor Tom Corbett would allow Pennsylvania's doctors and other health care providers to apologize to patients without fear of a lawsuit.
Senate Bill 379 cleared its final legislative hurdle Tuesday with unanimous approval in the state House of Representatives.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland/York), would also allow health care professionals to express grief to patients without fear their words could be used against them in court.
Majority Leader Mike Turzai said the legislation will help to prevent abuse of the civil justice system.
"We are working toward commonsense legal reforms aimed at bringing fairness, balance and stability to Pennsylvania's civil justice system, and benevolent gesture is a part of it," Turzai said in a statement. "When this bill gets signed into law, our doctors and other health care providers can once again be sympathetic with patients without fear of being sued."
For an apology or condolence to be inadmissible in court, it must be made before any civil action is taken against the health care provider, and the protections will not apply if the doctor admits to negligence or fault.
Twenty-nine other states have passed immunity for apology laws.