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Surfing the internet a few weekends ago I came across this article from a Dallas based plaintiffs firm discussing new measures state legislatures are taking to curb medical malpractice payouts. The apology laws, as they are being touted, basically state the contention that most med. mal cases are brought out of anger due to the victim’s belief that health care providers show little concern for their contribution to the plaintiff’s injuries. The legislators feel as though if doctors and medical personnel are able to have open communication with victims, free from repercussion, fewer suits would be filed and lower amounts of punitive damages would be awarded, thereby lowering costs. The article states that nineteen states have adopted such laws which allegedly protect and encourage health care employees to apologize and speak candidly with victims. Several VA hospitals have tried to put this theory into practice and have found that payouts have been lowered by $80,000. While, I in no way discourage open communication between the health care provider and the patient, I feel that not every consideration for the plaintiff’s future well-being is taken into account by such practices. The article states, and I agree, that one of the disadvantages is the lack consideration for the future financial support many of these victims face. Many times expediency of settlement would limit the ability of the victim to consider possible repercussions and expenses he/she will face in the future. The apology laws do not provide for the kind of screening and planning that the victim needs to consider before just accepting a quick financial settlement. My knowledge of this subject is limited, due to my inexperience, but it just appears, while the concept of more open lines of communication is no doubt beneficial, I wonder if the best interests of the victim are what these laws really protect.


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