Why Physicians Rarely Apologize for Medical Malpractice Errors

When you go to a hospital for treatment, you expect that the staff will be respectful, professional and knowledgeable. You hope that your ailment will be easily diagnosed and the proper treatment will be administered so you can get back to feeling like yourself. Unfortunately, hospital visits aren’t always straightforward, doctors aren’t always truthful, and sometimes you may leave feeling worse than when you arrived.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50,000 cases of medical malpractice are reported every year in the United States, while thousands more go unreported. A 2007 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine stated that while on surveys 95% of physicians say they would disclose an error, only 41% of physicians actually do acknowledge minor errors and only 5% confess major mistakes.

The National Institute of Health recognizes that many physicians express the desire to apologize to patients when an error has occurred. However, unless specifically questioned or sued, the majority of physicians tend to keep mistakes to themselves for the following reasons:

  • Career anxiety. Although physicians worry about harm caused to patients, they are also extremely anxious about the consequences of a mistake affecting their reputations.
  • Fear. Doctors are afraid that if they admit an error patients and colleagues will no longer trust and respect them.
  • Guilt. Once an error is committed, the physician may experience distress, feelings of guilt, and loss of self-confidence that they feel will increase if they actually admit to the mistake.
  • Legal concerns. Many physicians worry about the possibility of a lawsuit if they admit to their mistakes.
  • Hospital regulations. Many hospitals have a policy that refuses patient compensation except as part of a malpractice settlement. Therefore, there is no need to admit the mistake until a suit has been filed.

Your Rights Matter More Than Your Physician’s Fear

When you’re a victim of malpractice, you deserve to be informed of the mistake and professional courtesy dictates an apology. It doesn’t matter if the physician feels guilty or ashamed about the mistake. As the victim you have rights that need to be upheld. 

Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can help you get the respect and atonement you deserved from the very beginning. Call now!

Need more information about your medical rights? Please feel free to download our free report, Medical Negligence: Your Rights in the District of Columbia. You’ll learn more about your rights and claim options and see how our knowledge and experience can help you get the justice you deserve.