'Apology legislation' in Pennsylvania would hurt lawsuits against nursing homes, physicians

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Apologies for medical errors by nursing home employees and physicians no longer could play a role in lawsuits, according to a bill being considered in the state's legislature.

The legislation would disallow lawsuits against nursing homes and physicians based entirely on statements made during an apology over a medical error. So-called "apology legislation" or "disclosure programs" have been successful in reducing the number of medical liability lawsuits in the 35 states that currently employ such practices, according to the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Under the proposed law, patients may still file lawsuits based on medical errors, but the healthcare worker's apology may not be used as evidence in the suit.

Some of the state's long-term care representatives, including the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, have expressed their support of the bill. Association President Stuart Shapiro has called the legislation a "common-sense, cost-saving measure that costs taxpayers virtually nothing and mirrors the lesson we teach our children-to acknowledge mistakes, not run from them," the Times-Tribune of Scranton, PA, reports.