Conventional legal wisdom states you should never admit guilt. For many, this means never saying “I’m sorry,” as it could mean you have done something that warrants an apology. Yet, even when doctor error was made but injury still occurred from a medical procedure, the doctor may want the patient to know they wish the injury had not happened. In South Carolina, medical professionals can do just that.
The 2006 law, called the “South Carolina Unanticipated Medical Outcome Reconciliation Act,” says doctors can apologize or make other benevolent gestures toward patients who are suing them for medical malpractice. In fact, the statutes encourage medical professionals to do just that. If they make said apology, it is not considered an admission of guilt in any way.
The state did not want doctors to be afraid of loopholes in the law, so they left the definition of “apology” broad. Any sort of action or statement that could be construed as an expression of regret, sympathy, benevolence, etc. or offer of assistance is covered by this law. The reasoning behind passing this statute is twofold. One, it allows doctors to show their respect and improve communication between patient and medical professionals. Two, and perhaps most importantly, other states in which these laws are in effect have shown fewer medical malpractice lawsuits.
Regardless of whether the doctor apologizes, anyone who has suffered a worsened medical condition due to a doctor’s negligence may be entitled to compensation. It may be beneficial to speak with an experienced attorney about your unique case.