For ND docs, sorry doesn't mean you get sued

The Associated Press

Doctors who express sympathy to a patient’s family when something goes wrong with the person’s treatment should not have those statements used against them, the state Senate has decided.

North Dakota senators voted 43-0 on Wednesday to endorse the so-called “I’m sorry” law, which says a health care provider’s “expressions of empathy” may not be used against him or her in a malpractice lawsuit, arbitration proceeding or licensing hearing.

The bill covers anyone licensed or certified by the state to provide health care, including doctors, nurses and therapists.

“There have been individuals who have lost a loved one who took the attending physician’s expression of sympathy to them as an admission of negligence, and consequently have sued the individual physician,” said Sen. David Nething, R-Jamestown.

About 30 states have similar laws. The North Dakota bill now goes to Gov. John Hoeven for his review.
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