Apology Statute: Statement of Fault in Letter of Apology Admissible as Evidence, Court Rules

December 1, 2014 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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The Maine Supreme Judicial Court held that a trial court did not err when it admitted into evidence at a jury trial one sentence from a letter of apology and disclosure sent to the plaintiff by the president of a medical group. The letter acknowledged and apologized for a diagnostic error made by a surgeon who was member of the group and waived payment for related medical care, "as a gesture of acknowledgement" of the patient's concern.

The patient presented to a hospital emergency department (ED) with complaints of abdominal pain; various tests were performed and a follow-up visit was scheduled with a surgeon. The surgeon interpreted a computerized tomography scan taken at the time of the ED visit and believed that the patient had liver or pancreatic cancer. He also spoke briefly with a pathologist, who informed the surgeon that the lesion was either of hepatic or pancreatic...

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