Saying “I’m sorry” can go a long way for doctors

Many Pittsburgh residents have seen the news coverage of surgical never events. These extreme cases occur when a doctor leaves medical equipment inside of a patient or operates on the wrong body part. Although these surgical errors are rare, they still affect thousands of patients each year in the United States.

When a serious surgical error occurs the patient can be shocked and angry. If their wrong body part is operated on, if there is an anesthesia error and they wake up during surgery or any other extreme surgical error occurs, many times a patient just wants to hear their surgeon apologize. Although surgeries do involve risk and patients are made aware of the risk, there are some errors that should never occur. Many of these patients do not want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, but just want to know what happened and hear their doctor say that they’re sorry. A patient that is felt like the person is being listened to is more likely to settle out of court and not file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Patients who believe they have suffered from a medical mistake and not received an explanation or an apology can feel abandoned and alone. They can feel like their doctor deceived them and that the medical staff is more interested in covering up their mistake than explaining what went wrong. When this is the case a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice can help the patient get the answers they deserve. They can review medical records and consult with medical experts to determine what happened and who is at fault. Compensation may be available for medical expenses, future medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Patients should feel like they can trust their medical providers. When something goes wrong, these providers should offer an apology and an explanation as to what went wrong. When a patient does not receive this information they have legal rights to hold the doctor accountable for the doctor’s mistake.

Source:, “When a surgeon should just say ‘I’m sorry’,” Elizabeth Cohen, March 24, 2016