HARRISBURG – Legislation allowing health care professionals to apologize for an error without fear of reprisal passed the full General Assembly today, according to State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), a co-sponsor to the bill.
Senate Bill 379 makes any benevolent gesture made prior to the commencement of a medical liability action by a health care provider, assisted living residence or personal care home inadmissible as evidence of liability or an admission against interest. A benevolent gesture is any action that conveys a sense of apology, explanation, or compassion emanating from humane impulses related to the discomfort, pain, suffering, injury or death of a patient.
“I commend and congratulate Senator Pat Vance, the bill’s prime sponsor, on her perseverance in promoting this legislation over several years,” Yaw said. “I was happy to work with her on crafting a compromise and pleased it has become a reality. It allows doctors to make expressions of sympathy without fear that those expressions will be used as a weapon against them, yet the legislation still preserves the rights of individuals to pursue claims for substandard healthcare.”
Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Guam have provisions allowing medical professionals to make apologies or sympathetic gestures.
The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.