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Doctor apology bill passes House, heads to Corbett for signature

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A doctor apology bill that unanimously passed both houses of the General Assembly is now headed for Gov. Tom Corbett's signature.

State Bill 379, officially termed the Benevolent Gesture Medical Professional Liability Act, passed the House today 202-0 and the Senate in June 50-0.

“As physicians, it is part of our job — part of our moral and ethical responsibility — to respond to patients and families when there are less than favorable outcomes,” Dr. C. Richard Schott, the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s president, said in a news release. “Medicine is not an exact science, and outcomes may be unpredictable. Benevolent gestures are always appropriate and physicians should not have to fear giving them.

“With S.B. 379 passing, doctors will feel more comfortable doing so, knowing that an apology is inadmissible unless their expression admits fault.

“This bill will help improve patient-doctor communications, while also helping trial lawyers who often have people call them thinking they have malpractice cases when the physicians didn’t say they were sorry.”

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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