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The role of apologies in the resolution of medical disputes

Jahn Kassim, Puteri Nemie and Saleh, Muhammad Ridhwan (2016) The role of apologies in the resolution of medical disputes. In: 5th International conference on law and society 2016 (ICLAS 5), 18th to 19th April 2016, Fatoni University, Thailand. (Unpublished)

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In the wake of medical errors and potential lawsuits, apologies made by the medical practitioner to the patient have the ability to defuse the spur of litigation and restore the relationship of trust and confidence between them. Often, when things go wrong in a medical treatment, the patient wants to know what actually happened, why it happened and be assured that it will not happen again in the future. At this juncture, apologies which are ‘statements acknowledging error and its consequences, including accepting responsibilities and communication of regrets’ can reduce the intensifying anger and desires to retaliate. Nevertheless, apologies may also have the potential to be seen as admissions of guilt by the medical practitioner and may at certain circumstances, expose him to risks of impending lawsuits. In weighing the drawbacks of apologies against their benefits, several countries have enacted ‘apology laws’ that mandate open disclosure of medical errors and at the same time, shielding those who apologise from legal liability. For instance, Canada and Australia have enacted ‘apology laws’ in which apologies that have been given after adverse events cannot be used in future legal proceedings. This paper seeks to discuss the role of apologies in the resolution of medical disputes, particularly, in reducing the number of potential lawsuits and promoting prospects of settlement. Against this backdrop, the barriers faced by the medical practitioners in subjecting themselves to acts of open disclosure after a mishap should not be overlooked to ensure the inculcation of a sustainable culture of honesty, openness and respect that is fundamental for patient safety improvements and public trust within the healthcare system.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Additional Information: 1830/50445
Uncontrolled Keywords: Role of apologies, resolution, medical
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Kulliyyahs/Centres/Divisions/Institutes (Can select more than one option. Press CONTROL button): Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws
Depositing User: Professor Dr Puteri Nemie Jahn Kassim
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2016 11:35
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2016 11:35
URI: http://irep.iium.edu.my/id/eprint/50445

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