Illinois Study: Doctor Apologies Could Settle Medical Malpractice Suits

New research conducted by Jennifer Robbennolt at the University of Illinois suggests that the difference between a fraught medical malpractice case and a quick settlement may simply be the words, “I’m sorry.” While many attorneys will tell those being sued that making an apology after a medical error or injury is akin to an admission to guilt, this new study finds that saying your are sorry for a medical mistake can be the first step toward a just settlement out of court.

In the study, Robbennolt approached 550 volunteers with a hypothetical injury case and tested the waters with what would happen if the negligent party included an apology with their offer of compensation. More often then not, settlements that included apologies were more likely to be accepted.

What does this mean for Illinois medical malpractice cases? That injured patients and families want more than financial compensation – they want to hear doctors and hospitals accept blame, be responsible for their actions, and say they are sorry. However, it is still unclear whether or not apologies affect the size of the settlements that follow.
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