Doctors in Scotland will have new legal protection when saying sorry to patients after errors have been made, the Medical Defence Union says.
As of 19 June, The Apologies Scotland Act 2016 will make it clear that an apology (outside of legal proceedings) is not an admission of liability.
Similar legislation had been in place in England and Wales since 2006 via the Compensation Act 2006 where it states: “An apology, an offer of treatment or other redress, shall not of itself amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty.”
Senior solicitor, Christian Beadell, commented on the new protection, “All doctors have a professional duty to be open and honest with patients if things go wrong and an apology is an important part of that process. This new legislation will enshrine in Scottish law the principle already applied throughout the UK, namely that an apology does not amount to a legal enforceable admission of breach of duty. Client’s often present with a letter of apology and believe that at this will give them a right to compensation. That is rarely the case, although an open admission can be used as a means of opening a dialogue with a defendant to see if a resolution can be achieved without the need to commence a lengthy investigation”.