Know Your State Apology Laws, Advises NASRM Speaker
October 25, 2013 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance
State apology laws, intended to promote disclosure and apology in healthcare, vary among the more than 35 laws passed by states so healthcare organizations must know their state’s apology law status before drafting a disclosure policy, advises Kenneth L. Burgess, Esq., a healthcare attorney with the North-Carolina-based law firm Poyner Spruill, LLP, and head of its health law section. Speaking at the October 17 to 18, 2013, National Aging Services Risk Management (NASRM) conference in Chicago, Burgess described two general types of apology laws. The majority of laws fall under the partial apology designation and protect healthcare professionals who express empathy and, in some cases, offers of assistance. The remaining are considered full apology laws and also protect admissions of error. Applying apology laws “can be tricky” at trial, Burgess said, recommending that organizations involve legal counsel with regulatory and medical malpractice experience to help to interpret their state’s law.