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Rhode Island pondering benevolent gestures bill

Patients generally have a lot of trust and faith in their doctor's skills, and when they are the victims of medical errors, they can be devastated. What sometimes adds insult to injury is the fact that they fail to receive a simple apology from the doctor or some other form of sympathy. While spoken words will not fix a physician error that has caused the patient pain and further suffering, it can help the patient feel reassured that the doctor is a caring professional.

This appears to be the message in a legislative bill introduced in Rhode Island. The representative sponsoring the bill, referred to as the benevolent gestures bill, says that the bill would enable doctors to express sympathy to their patients without legal ramifications; it could not be used as evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Apparently, this type of bill has been introduced before but failed to pass both the state house and senate.

It is unknown if there are any groups that oppose the bill or if it has any support from physicians and the medical industry. If passed, physicians throughout Rhode Island may feel more comfortable in expressing themselves to a patient who has suffered from a delayed diagnosis, illness, or other medical problems arising from treatment.

This does not mean that a victim of medical negligence should not file a lawsuit to obtain financial compensation simply because their doctor apologized to them. The purpose of seeking justice in a court of law is to obtain financial compensation for additional medical costs, pain and suffering, a change in lifestyle, and lost income. For anyone who feels they have been a victim of medical errors, they may want to consider meeting with an attorney to discuss their legal options.

Source: WPRI Eyewitness News, "Bill would let doctors say "sorry"," Darren Soens, Feb. 18, 2013

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