An internet television program that explores the intersection of medicine and the law.

Can an Apology Reduce the Frequency of Medical Malpractice Claims?

By John Degnan to Malpractice Cases of Note


In this episode, Healthcare Matters interviews ALL MD attorney John Degnan on the concept of “apology in medicine” and whether it might lessen claims frequency.

Degnan is a shareholder at BRIGGS & MORGAN. He practices law in Minnesota, representing clients in business disputes, as well as members of the legal and medical communities in professional matters.

Degnan is a charter member of the Association of Liability Lawyers in Medical Defense (ALL MD), a nationwide organization that connects healthcare providers with attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice defense.

Interview was recorded October 14, 2015

Question 5 of 5


Mike Matray: Welcome to Healthcare Matters, where the medical and legal communities come together to discuss healthcare matters. I’m your host Mike Matray and today’s guest is John Degnan. He’s a shareholder at Briggs and Morgan in Minneapolis, where he regularly represents clients in business disputes as well as members of the legal and medical communities in professional matters. Welcome back, John.

John Degnan: Thank you. Glad to be here again.

Mike: Where do you fall in the apology in healthcare debate? Whether insurance companies or state laws should protect a physician insured if he apologies for an amorous outcome? And a lot of times there’s been a lot of studies, especially the University of Michigan health system that an upfront apology often leads to less claims of medical liability.

John: I think that it’s a positive thing. It’s obviously something you have to be careful in how it’s expressed. “I’m sorry for what’s happened to you,” as opposed to, “It’s all my fault.” But oftentimes there’s a sympathy card, etc., sent. Sometimes plaintiff’s lawyers have threatened to introduce it when I said, “If you don’t I will,” because I think that it shows the humanity of the medical provider. So as long as it’s not in the form of admitting fault, if you will, but actually showing some empathy and sympathy, I think it’s a positive thing.