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Can your doctor’s apology be used as evidence of malpractice?

On Behalf of | May 4, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Your doctor made a mistake – a big one. Maybe they mixed up your lab results with someone else’s, which resulted in a long delay in properly diagnosing and treating your medical condition – causing you added months of suffering and a less optimistic prognosis. Perhaps when they opened you up to do knee surgery, decided to “try something” they hadn’t planned and didn’t talk to you about. It didn’t work out, so you’re dealing with even worse pain and more surgery.

Much to your surprise, your doctor apologized for their mistake. That would be enough if it weren’t such a big mistake with serious consequences. That apology makes your medical malpractice claim a slam dunk, right? Not in Connecticut. Here’s why:

What are “apology laws?”

Most states have passed some type of “apology law.” Some state laws prohibit patients from using doctors’ and other medical professionals’ general words of sympathy and regret for a bad outcome against them in a malpractice claim. 

This can help foster a better relationship between patients and doctors and help them work toward making things right if possible. That’s harder to do when doctors are too afraid to express even basic human feelings that anyone should have for fear that their words will come back to haunt them. 

Some states’ laws go further. Connecticut is one of those. Under our state law, if a doctor or other medical provider apologizes for making a mistake, no part of that apology can be used against them in a legal claim.

You can still use other evidence

That doesn’t mean that by apologizing, a doctor has immunized themselves from being held legally accountable for their error or negligence. You may not be able to use their words against them, but their words can lead you to evidence that can be used against them – like those lab results that indicated you were sick or witnesses to the botched surgery. That’s just one reason why it’s always important to listen to everything your doctor says (or have a family member or friend do it for you, ask questions and take notes). 

Obtaining evidence in a malpractice case can be challenging. The sooner you obtain that, the better your chances are of getting that evidence before it “disappears” or is tampered with and before people’s memories fade. That’s why you need experienced legal guidance to protect your rights and build your case.