There is movement afoot by doctors’ insurers to save them money by having doctors, nurses, and other health care providers apologize to patients injured by their mistakes to try to avoid being sued by the injured party.  Additionally, they will offer compensation for harm caused.  The patient may reject the offer and still file a lawsuit, but the apology or admission will not be admissible in court. Is this a good idea and does it protect patients?

Many injuries caused by medical malpractice are not serious and don’t cause permanent harm.  An apology and compensation for the period of pain and suffering sounds reasonable.  But what about negligence that causes serious harm and lifelong pain and suffering with loss of earning capacity?  How would the patient begin to evaluate the cost of future medical care, lost earnings over a lifetime, and the loss of the injured person’s services (loss of consortium) to the family? 

The insurance company is just that…a company in business to make as much money as possible.  It is not your friend.  It doesn’t exist to satisfy your needs, but rather their needs.  If you are injured by medical malpractice and offered an apology and compensation, you should discuss this first with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who understands the medicine of your case and who can evaluate your future needs.  You should not meet alone with the risk manager of the insurance company who is an expert in withholding fair compensation in order to assist the insurer in keeping as much money as possible.  Bring your attorney with you to every meeting and have him involved from the very beginning to protect your interests.