“The Apology Bill,” or “the Benevolent Gesture Bill,” passed the House 200-0 on October 22, and was signed by Governor Corbett on October 23. This new law is the culmination of eight years of proposed legislation. It does not allow mere statements of an apology to be admissible at trial, but does allow statements that include an admission of negligence or fault.
This bill, similar to those approved in at least 36 other states including New Jersey, allows healthcare providers – including doctors, hospitals and nursing homes – to apologize when a procedure does not go as planned.
The new law will not eliminate liability on the part of doctors or hospitals or prevent medical malpractice suits. However, research suggests it will likely reduce the number of lawsuits, medical professionals claim.
Both trial lawyers who supported the bill and medical professionals said they believe many patients and families would not have filed malpractice suits had they been given a timely explanation, along with an apology, for an unanticipated outcome.