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A Doctor's Apology for A Bad Outcome Not Admissible in an Ohio Medical Malpractice Case


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8/10/2011
David P. Miraldi
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Whenever there is an unanticipated outcome in medical care, Ohio  law forbids the introduction of any evidence that the doctor apologized, offered sympathy, or expressed compassion to the family or the patient.  In a recent case tried in Akron, Ohio, the defendant doctor told the family that he nicked an artery and that the action was his fault.  He also told the family that he was sorry.  At trial, the defendant doctor attempted to keep out all of these statements, even the admissions of fault.

The court did not allow the statements regarding his apology, but did allow testimony from the family that the doctor admitted nicking the artery, that he took full responsibility, and he had never done anything like this in his entire professional career.  The court of appeals agreed that the law does allow the statements of responsibility to be considered by the jury.

Ohio is one of thirty five states that has a specific statute that keeps out statements of apologies from medical providers if the incident leads to a lawsuit and trial.  Some states have laws that forbid the introduction of both apologies and admissions of fault.  The court of appeals in this case ruled that Ohio's law only kept out the apology and not the admission of responsibility.

The case will likely be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Category: Medical Malpractice


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