Pa. bill would let doctors apologize

By John O'Brien | Mar 2, 2011


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Legislation that would allow doctors to apologize without worrying if it will come up in court has passed Pennsylvania's House of Representatives.

Rep. Keith Gillespie's bill would make Pennsylvania the 36th state to pass an immunity for apology law, according to House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County. It passed the House easily with a 171-27 vote Tuesday and will head to the Senate, where Republicans hold a 30-20 majority.

"Our job is to protect all Pennsylvania residents and employers. With today's lawsuit-happy environment, employers are choosing to move out or head somewhere other than Pennsylvania," Turzai said.

"The House plans to vote on commonsense legal reforms aimed at bringing fairness, balance and stability to Pennsylvania's civil justice system, and benevolent gesture is the start."

The legislation would protect medical services providers if they offer an apology or admission of fault prior to the commencement of a lawsuit to a patient or a patient's relative or representative.

Covered are apologies for discomfort, pain, suffering, injury or death, "regardless of the cause, including, but not limited to, the unanticipated outcome of any treatment, consultation, care or service or omission of treatment, consultation, care or service," the bill says.

Turzai has demonstrated a desire to reform Pennsylvania civil justice laws. The GOP has a majority in both houses of the Legislature, and Gov. Tom Corbett is also a Republican.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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