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Is a doctor's apology a sign of regret or admission of fault?

After hearing that someone you know has lost a loved one, it's common practice to offer that person a sign of sympathy by apologizing. Despite the common usage of the term "I'm sorry," you're not actually admitting fault for the loved one's death, merely showing your condolences. The phrase literally tells the other person that you feel bad that they are going through such a rough time in their life.

But while an apology from a friend or loved one can come as a comfort, the same isn't always true when it comes from a doctor or medical professional. This is especially true in instances where it's believed that medical malpractice has occurred. When medical malpractice or medical negligence is at play, an apology from a doctor or medical professional could signal admission of fault rather than an extension of sympathy.

But how do you know when this is the case? More to the point, would a doctor's apology give you grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if you discovered a medical mistake had occurred?

Though an apology may be admissible in medical malpractice claims in other states, this is not the case here in Maryland. Md. Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code Ann. §10-920 states very clearly that an "expression of regret or apology" made by a health care provider is not considered "admissible as evidence as an admission of liability."

So what does this mean for our Upper Marlboro readers? Well, just because an apology is not considered admissible evidence of liability, there may still be plenty of other evidence that would be considered admissible. It may even lead to compensation. You may never know though unless you talked to a skilled personal injury attorney about your claim.

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