How Medical Apology Programs Harm Patients

37 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2011 Last revised: 7 Nov 2011

Date Written: 2011


When an attorney suspects that he has committed legal malpractice, he must disclose it to the client and recommend that the client seek outside counsel to get objective legal advice on how to proceed. By contrast, when a doctor suspects that he has committed medical malpractice, at many facilities he is expected to employ a set of protocols that discourage the injured patient from considering the need for compensation. Yet, while an attorney could be disbarred for this sort of behavior, medical apology programs widely receive praise.

This Article argues that it is time to reconsider medical apology programs and the methods by which they operate. To do so, the Article explains the history of medical apology programs, how they work and how their design subverts the goals of fully compensating patients under the principles of tort law. The Article then suggests straightforward, effective cures for the misuse of medical apology programs.

Suggested Citation

Teninbaum, Gabriel H., How Medical Apology Programs Harm Patients (2011). Chapman Law Review, Vol. 15, p. 307, 2011, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 11-30, Available at SSRN:

Gabriel H. Teninbaum (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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