In the wake of the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in Stewart v. Vivian, physicians around the country are paying more attention to the "apology laws" in their state. In a recent article written by a physician for the Huffington Post, he advises that "it would be prudent for a physician expressing sympathy, condolence, or an apology, to pick his words carefully." This is because there are 30 states that partially protect apologies from being admitted as evidence, but there are now 8 states, including Ohio, that offer full protection to apologies.
Earlier this week, the Ohio Supreme Court continued its decade-long campaign to protect doctors at the expense of injured patients. First it was the arbitrary "caps" on damages, heightened pleading standards, and shortened statute of limitations. Now, doctors can even admit they were negligent, tell you exactly how they were negligent, and explain why it should not have happened, yet simply couple all those statements with an apology for the court to deem those statements inadmissible.
A disturbing study conducted by researchers analyzing paid malpractice claims using the National Practitioner Data Bank reveals that doctors who get sued once, are twice as likely to have another claim made against them. That percentage continues to grow with each and every claim made after that: four times as likely for one who had four claims and 12 times more likely for a provider with 6 or more claims made against them.
Medical providers in central Ohio are experimenting with a new method in an effort to make "going to the doctor" a little bit easier. On November 2, 2015, OhioHealth will have some of their doctors begin seeing patients for primary care visits via video and online consultations. What remains to be seen, however, is how this ease of access will affect the quality of care being provided.