Gov. Corbett Signs “Apology Rule” Bill

WILKES-BARRE — Smiles on doctors’ faces, as Governor Corbett signs a new bill into law. The “Apology Rule” will allow doctors to apologize or express sympathy to patients and their families, without having to worry that those two little words will be used in malpractice suits.

Mary Susan Brobst of Shavertown said that’s not fair to families.

“It’s just the government is, their fingers are in a little too many places,” said Brobst.

Joe Cosgrove is an arbitrator and former judge who deals with a lot of malpractice suits. He says this bill will help lower the number of malpractice suits that are filed.

“Any time we can reduce the number of malpractice claims, we save money in all kinds of ways, if nothing else, in just eliminating something from the court docket,” said arbitrator Joe Cosgrove.

He said doctors could also argue why shouldn’t they be able to show compassion? But he said there are obvious concerns for patients and their families as well.

“The plaintiff having a right to make a claim, if that’s diminished in any way, then is justice really being served? That’s the plaintiff’s point of view,” said Cosgrove.

“There’s too many frivolous lawsuits out there. It’s good to cut down on them, but then I could also see the fact where it’s going to affect families and that’s the con side of it,” said Brobst.

Cosgrove said he doesn’t believe the bill will have a big impact on malpractice suits in the state. The bill takes effect in 60 days.

2 comments

  • Daver

    The real problem is the actual number of injuries and deaths that occur from actual malpractice. The latest report from a patient safety group found that malpractice was several times worse than thought and between 200,000 and 400,000+ may die from malpractice every year.

    The only win-win to lower the number of lawsuits is to drastically reduce the number of preventable errors. For health care professionals to keep making the same number of mistakes but reducing the ability to hold them accountable only shifts the cost of malpractice back on the victims, their families and too often the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for disability claims, welfare for those who have lost income etc.

    Don’t forget even the AMA says doctors are supposed to always tell the truth to their patients regardless of the legal or financial consequences, but no one holds them to this standard.

  • Private Person

    Somewhat poor reporting. Both personal injury lawyers and doctors supported the bill. There was no controversy and it passed 202-0 in the House and 50-0 in the Senate. Expressions of sympathy can be held against a physician if it is an admission of guilt per this new law. If it is an expression of sympathy without any admission of guilt, only then it can’t be used. This law is in place since too many people think they have a malpractice case when they have a less than anticipated medical outcome and when the doc doesn’t say I’m sorry. Every procedure, every medicine, every type of treatment has potential side effects or may not work for everyone. That’s not negligence. That’s when the doc should be allowed to say “I’m sorry you didn’t get the results you were looking for.” Please correct your story to reflect accuracy and please interview sources who are familiar with the new law so that the public is not misinformed.

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