Is “I’m sorry” the hardest phrase to say? Does it…
The role of apologies in resolving all types of civil disputes has received growing attention. While apologies may well play a role in resolving civil disputes generally, they may be particularly relevant in the health care setting—a setting in which the parties are in a relationship that necessitates a high degree of trust and intimacy. Much of the discussion of how apologies might be beneficial in resolving health care disputes has been based primarily on intuition and incomplete empirical data. This Article attempts to review what is known and not known about apologies in this context. After briefly reviewing, in Part I, some recent legislative developments regarding disclosing and apologizing for medical errors, Part II describes what is known about apologies in health care disputes. This Part brings together and examines a variety of empirical data—from surveys, experiments, and case studies—that bear on the role of apologies in health care settings. Part III draws attention to avenues of further research.
Jennifer K. Robbennolt, What We Know and Don't Know About the Role of Apologies in Resolving Health Care Disputes, 21 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 1009 (2005).