"If I Say 'I'm Sorry,' Can It Be Used Against Me?"
pharmacists who have spent anytime dealing with the aftermath of a pharmacy
medication error will say that the best thing a pharmacist can do, when he or
she has made an obvious error, is to say “I’m sorry.”
health care professional apologies, however, can that statement be used against
them in a court of law? In at least 35 states (including Colorado, California,
Massachusetts, Florida and Texas), the answer is "no." These states have passed
what are known as “Apology Laws” that say, in essence, that any statement of
sympathy or compassion cannot be introduced as evidence of liability in a later
suit. As an example, Arizona's Apology Law (A.R.S.
§ 12-2605) reads in part:
In any civil action that is brought
against a health care provider as defined in section 12-561 or in any
arbitration proceeding that relates to the civil action, any statement,
affirmation, gesture or conduct expressing apology, responsibility, liability,
sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion or a general sense of
benevolence that was made by a health care provider or an employee of a health
care provider to the patient, a relative of the patient, the patient's survivors
or a health care decision maker for the patient and that relates to the
discomfort, pain, suffering, injury or death of the patient as the result of the
unanticipated outcome of medical care is inadmissible as evidence of an
admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest.
your state’s laws to see if it has an Apology Law in effect. Also, make sure a
pharmacist is covered by the act. Finally, make sure it covers errors.