Opinion | Gabriel H. Teninbaum

Be skeptical about the state’s medical apology program

The state’s new medical apology program is about money, not regret

The Massachusetts Medical Society and seven local hospitals recently announced a plan to disclose medical errors to patients, apologize, and offer compensation. They tout it as being humane, fair, and designed to help injured people. There is reason, though, to question who it really serves.

Toward the back of a 25-page policy paper addressing the initiative, called “A Roadmap for Removing Barriers to Disclosure, Apology and Offer in Massachusetts,’’ the authors admit that they also intend to pursue “a formal strategy to advance legislative changes” that includes “additional tort reforms independent [of the apology] itself.” In other words, doing the right thing for patients is not, in their view, an end to itself. Instead, it’s another foothold for larger plans to limit access to compensation for patients harmed by malpractice.

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