Another try for the "I'm sorry" bill for doctors

Feb 18, 2013

A bill that would protect doctors from legal action if they tell their patients they’re sorry has been filed once again in the General Assembly. The bill faces an uphill battle.

State Rep. Joseph McNamara (D-Warwick, Cranston) has once again sponsored the bill that would allow health care workers to express condolences, offer sympathy, or apologize without worrying that those statements could be used against them in court. McNamara has filed similar legislation for several years in a row but it has never gotten very far. Opponents of the measure include trial and medical malpractice lawyers, who cringe at the possibility that words like “I’m sorry” could be interpreted as a doctor admitting error. Supporters of the bill say simply hearing those words could improve communication between doctors and patients and potentially diffuse law suits. More than 30 other states already have some kind of “I’m sorry” law.