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Medical Professionals Apologies 2012 Legislation

Medical Professionals Apologies 2012 Legislation
 

Last updated: Nov. 21, 2012

NCSL Staff Contact: Heather Morton, Denver

Following discovery that something has gone wrong with a patient, many medical professionals may wish to express their condolences or apologies to patients or their families. However, in some states, such expressions may be admissible before courts as evidence of wrongdoing or guilt in medical liability/malpractice cases. Many doctors are advised, if not ordered, to refrain from making such statements to patients and families, should the matter end up in court.

In an effort to reduce medical liability/malpractice lawsuits and litigation expenses, state legislators and policymakers are changing the laws to exclude expressions of sympathy, condolences or apologies from being used against medical professionals in court. Proponents of these so-called "I'm sorry" laws believe that allowing medical professionals to make these statements can reduce medical liability/malpractice litigation.

In 2012, eight states and Puerto Rico had pending legislation to prevent medical professional apologies or sympathetic gestures from being used in court to date. Massachusetts enacted legislation that provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding and shall not constitute an admission of liability or an admission against interest.

Related NCSL Webpages:

State Laws on Medical Professional Apologies 2011 Legislation
2010 Legislation 2009 Legislation

 

 
 IL | MAMS | NH | NY | PA | PR | RI | WIV-W
STATES
BILL SUMMARY
Alabama
none
Alaska
none
Arizona
none
Arkansas
none
California
none
Colorado
none
Connecticut
none
Delaware
none
District of Columbia
none
Florida
none
Georgia
none
Guam
not available
Hawaii
none
Idaho
none
Illinois
H.B. 1474
Re-enacts the Sorry Works! Pilot Program Act. Extends the termination date of the reenacted program. Includes a related amendment to the State Finance Act. The program provides for participating hospitals and physicians to promptly acknowledge and apologize for mistakes in patient care and promptly offer fair settlements. Creates a committee to develop, oversee, and implement the program and authorizes grants for certain increased costs.
H.B. 5219
Amends the Code of Civil Procedure and the Good Samaritan Act to reenact certain provisions of Public Act 94-677, which was declared to be unconstitutional. Includes explanatory and validation provisions. Makes changes relating to the reenactment. Also makes these substantive changes: Amends the Code of Civil Procedure to lower the rate of interest payable on judgments; and to delay the accrual of interest in certain cases where a federal Medicare lien may exist against the judgment. Includes an inseverability provision.
S.B. 3439
Amends the Code of Civil Procedure and the Good Samaritan Act to reenact certain provisions of Public Act 94-677, which was declared to be unconstitutional. Includes explanatory and validation provisions. Makes changes relating to the reenactment. Also makes these substantive changes: Amends the Code of Civil Procedure to lower the rate of interest payable on judgments; and to delay the accrual of interest in certain cases where a federal Medicare lien may exist against the judgment. Includes an inseverability provision.
Indiana
none
Iowa
none
Kansas
none
Kentucky
none
Louisiana
Maine
none
Maryland
none
Massachusetts
H.B. 418
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding and shall not constitute an admission of liability or an admission against interest.
H.B. 421
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding and shall not constitute an admission of liability or an admission against interest.
H.B. 494
Relates to the admissibility of evidence in judicial or administrative proceeding pertaining to adverse health care management.
H.B. 1519
Relates to medical peer review and patient safety. Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, writings, gestures, activities, or conduct expressing apology, regret, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of benevolence which are made by a health care provider, an employee or agent of a health care provider, or by a health care facility to the patient, family of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding and shall not constitute an admission of liability or a statement against interest.
H.B. 1849
Substituted by S.B. 2260 5/9/12
Improves the quality of health care and controlling costs by reforming health systems and payments.
H.B. 4070
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding, unless the maker of the statement or a defense expert witness, when questioned under oath during the litigation about facts and opinions regarding any mistakes or errors that occurred, makes a contradictory or inconsistent statement as to material facts or opinions, in which case the statements and opinions made about the mistake or error are admissible for all purposes. In situations where a patient suffers an unanticipated outcome with significant medical complication(s) resulting from the provider’s mistake, the health care provider, facility, or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility shall fully inform the patient, and when appropriate the patient's family, about said unanticipated outcome.
H.B. 4127
Substituted by H.B. 4155 6/5/12
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding, unless the maker of the statement or a defense expert witness, when questioned under oath during the litigation about facts and opinions regarding any mistakes or errors that occurred, makes a contradictory or inconsistent statement as to material facts or opinions, in which case the statements and opinions made about the mistake or error are admissible for all purposes. In situations where a patient suffers an unanticipated outcome with significant medical complication resulting from the provider’s mistake, the health care provider, facility, or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility shall fully inform the patient, and when appropriate the patient's family, about said unanticipated outcome.
H.B. 4155
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding, unless the maker of the statement or a defense expert witness, when questioned under oath during the litigation about facts and opinions regarding any mistakes or errors that occurred, makes a contradictory or inconsistent statement as to material facts or opinions, in which case the statements and opinions made about the mistake or error are admissible for all purposes. In situations where a patient suffers an unanticipated outcome with significant medical complication resulting from the provider’s mistake, the health care provider, facility, or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility shall fully inform the patient, and when appropriate the patient's family, about said unanticipated outcome.
S.B. 766
Provides for time limits and notice requirements for claims against health care providers; defines terms; provides that certain communications are inadmissible as evidence.
S.B. 808
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding and shall not constitute an admission of liability or an admission against interest.
S.B. 834
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error, or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient, or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding and shall not constitute an admission of liability or an admission against interest.
S.B. 2260
Substituted by S.B. 2270 5/17/12
Relates to improving the quality of health care and controlling costs by reforming health systems and payments; creates a Health Information Technology Council; expands medical peer review; relates to patient protection; relates to health insurer reporting requirements; provides for apologies by medical professionals.
S.B. 2262
Provides that in any claim, complaint or civil action brought by or on behalf of a patient allegedly experiencing an unanticipated outcome of medical care, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, activities or conduct expressing benevolence, regret, apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, mistake, error or a general sense of concern which are made by a health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility, to the patient, a relative of the patient or a representative of the patient and which relate to the unanticipated outcome shall be inadmissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding, unless the maker of the statement, or a defense expert witness, when questioned under oath during the litigation about facts and opinions regarding any mistakes or errors that occurred, makes a contradictory or inconsistent statement as to material facts or opinions, in which case the statements and opinions made about the mistake or error shall be admissible for all purposes. In situations where a patient suffers an unanticipated outcome with significant medical complication resulting from the provider’s mistake, the health care provider, facility or an employee or agent of a health care provider or facility shall fully inform the patient, and when appropriate the patient's family, about said unanticipated outcome.
S.B. 2270
Substituted by S.B. 2400 7/30/12
Relates to improving the quality of health care and controlling costs by reforming health systems and payments; creates a Health Information Technology Council; expands medical peer review; relates to patient protection; relates to health insurer reporting requirements; provides for apologies by medical professionals.
S.B. 2400
Signed by governor 8/6/12, Chapter 224
Provides for health care quality, cost reduction and determination of need; includes an inventory of resources including facilities for coronary, cancer, neonatal, renal dialysis, surgical, intensive care, skilled nursing, assisted living, long-term care, home health, substance abuse, pharmacy services; family planning, obstetrics, optometric, chiropractic, dental and midwifery; provides employer tax credits for wellness programs; provides for apologies by medical professionals; provides damages for malpractice lawsuits and mental health insurance parity.
Michigan
none
Minnesota
none
Mississippi
S.F. 2182
Died in committee 3/6/12
Provides that certain statements by health care providers or employees regarding the unanticipated outcome of medical care are inadmissible in any civil action by a relative or representative of the patient; provides definitions.
S.B. 2389
Died in committee 3/6/12
Provides that certain statements by health care providers or employees regarding the unanticipated outcome of medical care are inadmissible in any civil action by a relative or representative of the patient; provides definitions.
Missouri
none
Montana
No Regular 2012 Session
Nebraska
none
Nevada
No Regular 2012 Session
New Hampshire
S.B. 17
To Senate for concurrence 5/17/12
This bill makes certain statements by medical care providers to an alleged victim and the alleged victim’s relatives and representatives inadmissible as evidence in any medical injury action.
New Jersey
none
New Mexico
none
New York
A.B. 8621
S.B. 7070
Excludes a statement of apology or regret, made by a health care provider, as an admission of liability in a malpractice lawsuit.
North Carolina
none
North Dakota
No Regular 2012 Session
Ohio
none
Oklahoma
none
Oregon
none
Pennsylvania
none
Puerto Rico
H.B. 3976
To conference committee 6/29/12
Amends the Rules of Evidence of 2009; establishes that the statements or gestures expressing apology, sympathy or solidarity to make a provider of health care give services to an alleged victim of an unanticipated medical outcome or a relative or representative thereof, shall be inadmissible as evidence of liability of unexpected medical outcome.
Rhode Island
H.B. 7172
Withdrawn at sponsor’s request 3/1/12
This act provides that expressions of sympathy, statements by a health care provider to a patient or to the patient’s family regarding the outcome of such patient’s medical care and treatment, including reports of medical/health care errors or unanticipated outcomes as required be in accordance with JCAHO’s standards, and any offers by a health care provider to undertake corrective action to assist the patient shall be inadmissible as evidence or an admission of liability in any claim or action against the provider.
H.B. 7290
This act provides that statements by a health care provider to a patient or to the patient’s family regarding the outcome of such patient’s medical care and treatment such as an apology or expression of sympathy, and any offers by a health care provider to undertake corrective action to assist the patient shall be inadmissible as evidence or an admission of liability in any claim or action against the provider.
S.B. 2671
This act provides that statements by a health care provider to a patient or to the patient’s family regarding the outcome of such patient’s medical care and treatment such as an apology or expression of sympathy, and any offers by a health care provider to undertake corrective action to assist the patient shall be inadmissible as evidence or an admission of liability in any claim or action against the provider.
South Carolina
none
South Dakota
none
Tennessee
none
Texas
No Regular 2012 Session
Utah
none
Vermont
none
Virginia
none
Washington
none
West Virginia
none
Wisconsin
A.B. 147
Failed to pass pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 1 3/23/12
This bill provides that a statement or conduct of a health care provider that expresses apology, benevolence, compassion, condolence, fault, liability, remorse, responsibility, or sympathy to a patient or patient's relative or representative is not admissible into evidence or subject to discovery in any civil action or administrative hearing regarding the health care provider as evidence of liability or as an admission against interest.
S.B. 103
Failed to pass pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 1 3/23/12
This bill provides that a statement or conduct of a health care provider that expresses apology, benevolence, compassion, condolence, fault, liability, remorse, responsibility, or sympathy to a patient or patient's relative or representative is not admissible into evidence or subject to discovery in any civil action or administrative hearing regarding the health care provider as evidence of liability or as an admission against interest.
Wyoming
none


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