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Healthcare professionals are reluctant to apologize for medical errors, because they fear it could be used against them in lawsuits. In response to this issue, some states are developing policies that legally protect physicians, so they feel more comfortable apologizing to patients involved in medical errors. Even though these policies seem beneficial in theory, researchers found that these laws could discourage apologies and honest communication between patients and physicians following adverse medical events. Thus, researchers emphasize the importance for states to develop policies with modified legal protections and implications to not only promote disclosure between patients and physicians following adverse medical incidents, but also do not weaken the legal influence on lawsuits involving malpractice.


Mastroianni, A. C., Mello, M. M., Sommer, S., Hardy, M., & Gallagher, T. H. (2010). The Flaws In State ‘Apology’ And ‘Disclosure’ Laws Dilute Their Intended Impact On Malpractice Suits. Health Affairs, 29(9), 1611–1619.