Proposed Maryland Bill Would Exclude Any Health Care Provider's Apology From Trial

Last week, two Maryland senators re-introduced a bill aimed at excluding any apology from a health care provider to a patient following the rendering of care in a subsequent medical negligence/malpractice trial.  Presently, in Maryland, if a health care provider extends an apology for an adverse result or expresses regret, those statements may not be used against the health care provider in a civil trial, with one exception.  That exception is triggered if, in making the apology or statement of regret, the health care provider also admits wrongdoing or negligent care whether it is during a procedure or during the care of a particular patient.  In such a circumstance, a patient may use that statement of guilt against the physician of a subsequent trial.  The bill proposed by the two Maryland senators seeks to eliminate that exception. 

Two competing interests are at heart in the debate over this proposed bill.  On the one hand, physicians argue that if open communication between the physician and patient is encouraged; i.e., allow the doctor to say he made a mistake, the end result will be fewer lawsuits and legal fees.  In fact, many of our clients often state that if physicians had only apologized for what had happened during a particular procedure or during the care of a loved one, they would not have felt compelled to bring a lawsuit against the doctor.  On the other hand, advocates for patients argue that the current law does more than enough to protect health care providers and insulate them from liability for their humanistic response to an medical error; i.e., a statement of regret or apology.  Patient's advocates argue that doctor's should be truthful with their patients regardless of a bad outcome or the potential for liability, and that a law further shielding health care providers from liability for these statements unfairly prejudices the injured patient even further. 

Of note, similar bills were introduced in the Maryland legislature in 2008 and 2009, both of which were ultimately rejected.

The lawyers at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White routinely handle medical malpractice and catastrophic injury cases.  For a free consultation call 410-385-2225 or visit our website for a free consultation.  Our attorneys regularly handle these types of cases on a contingency basis, meaning that our firm lays out the expenses in advance and our clients are only required to reimburse us if the case is successful via a settlement or at trial or on appeal.  Our office routinely handles cases and matters in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas against physicians and hospitals including Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Medical System, St. Joseph's Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital, St. Agnes Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Anne Arundel County Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Frederick Memorial Hospital, Baltimore Washington Medical Center, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, and Washington Adventist Hospital.   Our lawyers routinely obtain some of the highest verdicts in the state of Maryland and routinely receive jury verdicts in the multi-million dollar range.