Marleau: Health care I’m Sorry legislation approved by Senate

LANSING―Michigan health care providers would be able to apologize for the pain, suffering, or death of their patients without the comments being used against them in a court of law under legislation approved by the state Senate on Tuesday.

“This bill protects our health care providers who say 'I'm sorry' to a patient or a patient's family when something goes wrong. If signed into law, the apology cannot be used against him or her in a medical malpractice situation,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion, who sponsored Senate Bill 53 with bipartisan support. “No one, especially health care workers, wants to ignore someone in pain. Not only will we improve care, it is the right thing to do.”

Marleau said those who work in health care are usually discouraged by their lawyers and insurance representatives from expressing sympathy to a patient. However, Michigan hospitals that have implemented similar policies have reduced medical malpractice lawsuits and the number of medical errors from health care providers.  Health care costs are on the rise, but saying “I’m sorry” creates real savings and improves quality of care.

The University of Michigan has implemented a similar “I'm sorry” policy, and according to a 2009 article published by the school's attorney, there has been a 40 percent reduction in new lawsuits filed by patients, which has cut its litigation costs in half. The school also said the policy helps in correcting mistakes and training to prevent future errors. 

Several other states have passed similar legislation.

SB 53, which received unanimous approval, now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.