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Doctors: 'I'm Sorry' Doesn't Mean 'I'm Liable'

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, April 28, 2011

"We believe it is critically important that the physician and hospital maintain an open avenue of communication with patient or patient's family when the patient has been injured due to an unfortunate medical error," Foster said in an interview. "And so things that get in the way of that communication like fear of litigation are not helpful. The fact that someone says I'm sorry shouldn't be held against them in a court of law."

So here we are, at the beginning of healthcare reform, ready to dive in, and one of the prized goals is to reduce medical errors to begin with, enhance quality, and hopefully get rid of ridiculous lawsuits that raise the expense bar in an already inflated healthcare cost system.

As for saying "I'm sorry," that may be a step in the right direction, for medicine. Eventually, maybe healthcare won't need the line anymore.

Even Ryan O'Neal joked about the famous Love Story line in the 1972 movie, "What's Up Doc?"  After hearing Barbra Streisand say, "Love means never having to say you're sorry, O'Neal said: "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."


Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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