Governor Tom Corbett signed legislation Wednesday that will allow Pennsylvania's doctors and other health care providers to apologize to patients without fear of a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Senate Bill 379, sponsored by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland/York), would also allow health care professionals to express grief to patients and their families after a bad outcome without worries their words could be used against them in court.
"After eight years of hard work I'm pleased to see this
legislation become law," Vance said in a statement. "An
apology works and has proven to be effective in resolving conflict
and preventing litigation."
Vance said the University of Michigan in 2001 began
to encourage staff to apologize when mistakes occurred. She said lawsuits have
fallen about 50 percent since.
Thirty-six other states have passed immunity for apology laws.
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.
The protections will not apply if the doctor admits to negligence or fault.