Posted by Bill Sandweg on 19 March 2015.
Many states have what are called “Apology Statutes”. These statutes permit a doctor or hospital to apologize for an injury suffered by a patient without worrying that their expression of sympathy or sorrow will be used against them in court. Typically, the statutes provide that evidence of an apology by the defendant is not admissible in a malpractice case against the apologizing doctor or hospital.
Not to be outdone by other states, your representatives at the Arizona Legislature have gone the extra mile. You may be and should be surprised to learn that if your doctor comes to you after your operation and tells you that she made a terrible mistake, that the bad outcome you suffered was all her fault because she was hung over from a night of binging on cocaine, her admission cannot be used at trial against her. See A.R.S. Section 12-2605. No matter how many times a doctor or hospital representative tells you that what happened was all their fault, no matter what they tell you was the reason they negligently killed your loved one, their admissions cannot be used against them at trial. On the other hand, if YOU make even an ambiguous statement about fault after an automobile accident, you may never stop hearing about it at trial.
Doctors and hospitals should be allowed to express sympathy or sorrow for what happened to their patient without having to worry about whether the statement will be used against them. That said, an admission by a doctor that he was drunk when he operated on you and that is why he put your artificial hip in backwards should be able to be used against them. After telling you it was all their fault, they should not be allowed to get up in front of the jury and claim that they were blameless. If you agree with me on this, let your legislator know that you don’t think it’s fair.