Report: Most States Protect Apologies by ProQuest

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									28 Renal & Urology News                 MARCH 2009




                                                               MALPRACTICE NEWS



  BY MYRA DEMBROW                                                                                                                                                  should be made explicit. “When done
                                                                                                                                                                   well, standards and checklists can
  Report: Most States                                                                                                                                              help improve the quality and reduce
  Protect Apologies                                                                                                                                                the costs of care and enhance rather
                                                                                                                                                                   than compromise the profession of
  Doctors in 35 states and the Dis-                                                                                                                                medicine,” he maintains.
  trict of Columbia can commiser-                                                                                                                                    “Gone are the days when a doctor
  ate with patients or their families                                                                                                                              was on his own, carrying all the tools
  and worry less about the legal                                                                                                                                   of modern medicine in a black
  repercussions.                                                                                                                                                   leather bag,” Dr. Pronovost says.
    That’s the view of William M.                                                                                                                                  “Today, much of care is team-based,
  McDonnell, MD, JD, who teaches                                                                                                                                   and the wealth of techniques and
  at the law school and medical                                                                      4
                                                                                                                                                                   wisdom is too much for one doctor




                                                                                                                                      ILLUSTRATION BY R. MANCUSO
  school at the University of Utah in                                                                                                                              to keep in his or her head. Stan-
  Salt Lake City. He and Elisabeth                                                                                                                                 dardization and a move away from
  Guenther, MD, MPH, have compiled                                                                                                                                 physician autonomy will help guar-
                                                              No apology law   Sympathy only    Admissions of fault
  a status report on “apology laws” ac-                                                                                                                            antee that each patient receives the
  ross the country as of March 31, 2008                                                                                                                            best treatment available.”
  (Ann Intern Med. 2008;149:811-815).          Apology laws in the United States are a fairly recent trend in the United States,
                                               varying from state to state with regard to the level of protection afforded.
    Citing an actual Colorado mal-                                                                                                                                 Insurers Cut Premiums
  practice case, the authors give this                                                                                                                             in Several States
  example of a problematic statement:           “Because they are so recent and                98,000 Americans who die each
  “I’m sorry about your father’s situa-       because physicians remain unfamil-               year because of hospital error, the                                 Doctors in at least four states are
  tion. Things might have turned out          iar with them, there is little evidence          critical-care specialist asserts.                                   paying less for malpractice insur-
  better had I been more up to date on        yet as to whether [these statutes]                 “Imagine,” he says. “America has                                  ance than they were a year ago.
  current treatment options.” The first       improve communication or reduce                  some of the best doctors and medi-                                    After keeping rates flat for five
  sentence is an expression of sympa-         errors,” they conclude. Citing the ef-           cine in the world, yet we are getting                               years, LAMMICO (whose name is
  thy; the second could be construed          fective use of Virginia’s apology law            it right only half of the time.”                                    derived from the Louisiana Medical
  as an admission of fault.                   in excluding a physician’s apology a
								
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