HARRISBURG – The Governor today signed legislation championed by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland/York) that allows health care professionals to apologize to patients without fear of reprisal.
Senate Bill 379 allows health care professionals to have a conversation with a patient after a bad outcome without fear that every statement will be used against them in a lawsuit. Patients and their families just want a health care provider to speak with about what occurred and this allows that conversation, but does not preclude a lawsuit to be filed.
“After eight years of hard work I’m pleased to see this legislation become law,” Vance said. “Stakeholders were able to put aside their competing interests to come to a compromise. An apology works and has proven to be effective in resolving conflict and preventing litigation. The University of Michigan in 2001 began to encourage staff to apologize when mistakes occurred. Lawsuits have fallen about 50 percent since. I’m hopeful Pennsylvania will see similar results.”
Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Guam have provisions allowing medical professionals to make apologies or sympathetic gestures.
The new law goes into effect in 60 days.
Vance’s district includes all of Cumberland County and Carroll, Fairview, Franklin, Monaghan, Warrington and Washington townships and Dillsburg, Franklintown and Wellsville boroughs in York County.
Contact: Tracy Polovick
Coordinator of Communications and Outreach