The Doctors’ Apology – an Illinois lawyer’s perspective

Recently a colleague referred a case to me involving blatant medical negligence. The referring attorney explained the series of events involving a misdiagnosis, a failure to diagnose, and a relatively simple procedure essentially done backwards causing material to be pumped out of the patient’s stomach of pumped into the patient’s stomach. As he explained the situation to me, it was clear that the doctor had made mistakes and caused the patient severe pain and permanent injury. It was no surprise to me that the patient had decided to pursue legal action. Apparently, however, the patient was reluctant to file a personal injury claim based on the medical malpractice of the doctor. The patient was reluctant to file a personal injury lawsuit , that is, until the doctor behaved arrogantly and refused to admit any wrongdoing. The old rule in medicine was to never apologize and never admit mistakes, but the old rule may not be the smart rule. In a recent New York Times article, a doctor explains a mistake he made and how his apology diffused the situation and even won over the patient. As an personal injury attorney I have seen that, unfortunately, mistakes are more commonplace in medicine than anyone would like to admit. Even more unfortunately, apologies are nearly non-existent.

For the complete New York Times article, click here.

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