"I'm sorry" Legislation

An expression of a provider's sympathy

What does it mean?

No one involved ever feels good about an adverse outcome related to medical care. Doctors and other healthcare providers are human beings who've chosen to serve others in need and naturally want to show their concern for the patient's health and welfare.

Many states have passed so-called "I'm sorry" legislation that removes the risk that a healthcare provider's expression of sympathy, compassion or apology made during the discussion of an adverse or unexpected outcome, may be used as evidence against that practitioner in a future suit. Medical Mutual has always maintained that an open disclosure discussion is a mandate of the physician-patient relationship and – for all healthcare providers – we strongly endorse the American Medical Association's code of ethics that requires practitioners to always deal candidly and honestly with patients.

In Medical Mutual’s experience, many claims could very likely have been avoided had the healthcare provider communicated care and concern for their patient during a thoughtful and forthright discussion of an adverse outcome. An apology is a meaningful and very powerful tool in maintaining an open and trusting relationship with the patient and in avoiding a future lawsuit. In contrast, admissions of fault are not protected and therefore remain admissible in subsequent litigation.