Apology Law: Doctor’s Statement to Patient Is Protected, Ohio Supreme Court Rules

May 3, 2013 | Physician Practice News

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A surgeon’s statement to a distressed patient, “I take full responsibility for this. Everything will be OK,” made after the patient had complications related to bile-duct surgery, is not admissible evidence in a medical negligence trial against the surgeon, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled. At issue was whether Ohio’s “apology law,” enacted in 2004, applied to the case. The physician’s statement was made in 2001; the patient and her husband initially filed their lawsuit in 2002, voluntarily withdrew it in 2006, and filed another lawsuit against the surgeon in 2007. After hearing witness testimony about the context in which the statement was made—the patient was distressed, the physician held her hand in a gesture of comfort—the trial court ruled that the statement was inadmissible. The jury found the physician was not negligent.

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