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Can a New York doctor’s apology be used in a malpractice suit?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

If you’ve been visiting family or friends recently in some nearby states, you may have heard that in some places, apologies by doctors for errors or negligence cannot be used as evidence in a malpractice claim. It’s true that most states now have “apology laws” that exempt expressions of sympathy or, in some states, even straightforward apologies from being used in a malpractice case.

New York is one of the minority of states that currently has no such law. Anything a doctor or other medical professional says can be used against them. That means they’re most likely going to be very careful about admitting any kind of fault to patients or family members or even expressing regret for a bad outcome.

It’s still important to listen to everything they say – no matter how angry you may be with them. Take notes and ask them to slow down, repeat or clarify what they’ve said. Even doctors who’ve done nothing wrong sometimes forget they aren’t talking to someone with a medical degree.

Apologies can help, but other evidence will likely be needed

Even if they were to apologize, you’d likely need more evidence (lab results, medical records, notes and possibly the testimony of others) to bring a successful claim. They may inadvertently lead you to that evidence, even if they don’t admit fault.

A lot of things can go wrong that can lead to a bad outcome. They aren’t all the fault of a medical provider. Further, even if they didn’t provide the level of care they should have, that may not have changed the ultimate outcome. It’s not as easy to bring a malpractice suit as many people assume it is. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have grounds for one. If you believe you do, your best first step is to get legal guidance.