Lawmakers in nine states want doctors to be able to say they're sorry. So-called "I'm-sorry" laws, already on the books in 27 states, allow doctors to apologize to patients when they make mistakes, or as expressions of sympathy, without fear of litigation.
The wave of laws, all passed within the last couple of years, is aimed at encouraging doctors to be more forthcoming with patients about errors, to improve care and defuse patient anger. Some laws offer a specific window for safe apologies after a procedure; others permit only oral apologies. But medical insurers are still warning their clients to avoid loaded words like "error," "mistake," "fault" or "negligence."