Disingenuous apologies can make a mountain out of a molehill

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MEDICOLEGAL

Disingenuous apologies can make a mountain out of a molehill

Gaeline Phipps

Gaeline Phipps

Not impressed
An apology should not be a kindergarten-type forced expression of non-existent contrition

A meaningful professional apology regarding patient care should not reveal any resentment the doctor may have about having to make it, or insincerity about the issues, says Wellington barrister Gaeline Phipps

The HDC viewed the apology as unsuitable to be passed on to the family The headline in the 8 October Otago Daily Times said it all: “Apology ‘Moc
References

1. Whitman AB, Park DM, Hardin SB. How do patients want physicians to handle mistakes?, A survey of internal medicine patients in an academic setting. Arch Intern Med 1996;156(22):2565–69.

2. R v Hugel trial ruling not reported, for the costs decision see unreported, High Court Rotorua, T99/97, 20 October 1998, Paterson J. The Judge excluded attempts of the Crown to use the apology as an admission of liability, in the Hugel manslaughter trial.

3. Carvel D (GP; Glasgow, UK). The downward spiral [editorial]. BMJ 2000;321:715.