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Why a doctor’s apology isn’t grounds for a malpractice claim on its own

If your doctor apologizes for something that they did wrong – or neglected to do – that caused harm, that’s enough to hold them legally responsible, right? In Ohio and a number of other states, it’s not.

Most states across the country have enacted some type of “apology law” that gives doctors the freedom to apologize or at least express some type of remorse for a poor outcome without fear that it will be used against them.

The impetus for these laws is, in part, studies that have shown that patients are less likely to pursue a medical malpractice claim if their doctor takes some amount of responsibility and shows that they feel bad about what they’ve experienced. Of course, an apology is more likely to prevent a lawsuit when the error is relatively minor, unintentional and reparable.

Ohio law

Ohio is among the states wherein neither any expression of regret nor an outright apology for an error can be used as evidence in a malpractice claim. Of course, any information that a doctor provides in their apology can be used as inspiration to seek other evidence that may be admissible. Such evidence can include medical records, testimony from witnesses and more.

This is just one reason why it’s important to listen to everything that your or a loved one’s doctors and the rest of their medical team tell you. Ask questions, take notes if you need to and don’t be afraid to ask them to explain any medical jargon that you don’t understand.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of a doctor’s or other medical professional’s actions or negligence, it’s a good idea to seek legal guidance to determine whether you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim that can allow you to seek justice and compensation.