Assessing legislative potential to institute error transparency: a state comparison of malpractice claims rates.
Most preventable medical errors are still never disclosed fully to the patient. In order to encourage transparency in error disclosure, many states have enacted apology laws, which prohibit "expressions of sympathy" (but not admissions of fault) from being used as evidence in a lawsuit, and others have enacted mandatory error reporting statutes. This study sought to examine the relationship between apology laws, error reporting laws, and malpractice rates on a state-by-state basis. Although significant variation exists in malpractice claims rates across states, no relationship was found between claims rates and enactment of either or both types of disclosure statutes. Although proponents of transparency have argued that full disclosure of errors may decrease malpractice suits, this argument remains controversial.