When you talk about the quality of a visit to the doctor, typically the conversation has more to do with wait times and what the doctor said while they examined you. Generally, when you feel respected and cared for, you interpret the doctor as “good.”
The connection between bedside manner and quality of care is often what leads doctors to soften what they say with words like “sorry.” At what point, however, is the word “sorry” admitting a mistake?
The difference between reassurance and an apology may be subtle. Here are some tips for distinguishing bedside manner from an admission of liability.
They Don’t Really Want to Hurt You
There is no getting around the pain that comes with many of the treatments and procedures doctors perform to help you feel better. Pain also is not necessarily an indication that the doctor made a mistake.
Doctors do not want their patients to be in pain and, often, will try to empathize with you when they know something hurts. A doctor who says, “I’m sorry, I know this is going to hurt” is not making a confession but trying to calm your nerves instead.
What About an Apology After an Actual Mistake?
While there was a time when doctors were encouraged never to admit that they made a mistake, many administrators have given doctors new advice. More recent training has suggested that doctors that make mistakes should be upfront and honest about the error so as not to harm their relationship with the patient.
If your doctor comes to you about a mistake they made while working with you, keep good notes about the conversation, the admitted mistake, and whether the hospital made any promises about compensation. In many cases, a doctor who is upfront about a mistake can still be subject to a malpractice claim.
Admitting a mistake does not guarantee that your claim will be won, though. Medical malpractice claims are complicated from the beginning to the end, especially when establishing actual liability for a medical error. In order to give your claim a real chance at being successful, don’t rely on a simple apology from your doctor. Instead, rely on the assistance of a trusted medical malpractice attorney, like those you can find at Garau Germano, P.C. in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since 1997, we have been helping the people in our community seek fair compensation after a medical mistake caused them harm, and we would be happy to see if we can help you, too.