Sorry is Never Enough: The Effect of State Apology Laws on Medical Malpractice Liability Risk
45 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 10, 2016
State apology laws offer a separate avenue from traditional damages-centric tort reforms to promote communication between physicians and patients and to address potential medical malpractice liability. These laws facilitate apologies from physicians by excluding statements of apology from malpractice trials. Using a unique dataset that includes all malpractice claims for 90% of physicians practicing in a single specialty across the country, this study examines whether apology laws limit malpractice risk. For physicians who do not regularly perform surgery, apology laws increase the probability of facing a lawsuit and increase the average payment made to resolve a claim. For surgeons, apology laws do not have a substantial effect on the probability of facing a claim or the average payment made to resolve a claim. Overall, the evidence suggests that apology laws do not effectively limit medical malpractice liability risk.
Keywords: Medical malpractice, apology law, tort reform, litigation
JEL Classification: I18, K13, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation