The Synergy of Early Offers and Medical Explanations/Apologies

Robinette, Christopher J. | May 17, 2009

Medical malpractice law has been subjected to strong criticism by both medical and legal commentators. It has been challenged as inefficient, inaccurate, and even counterproductive. Although many reforms have been proposed, most tend to benefit one group—either physicians or patients—to the exclusion of the other. Professor Jeffrey O’Connell’s “early offers” proposal provides a reform of the system that is beneficial to plaintiffs, defendants, and society as a whole. Although some attention has been paid to combining early offers with explanations of the incident or with apologies, the idea has never received a focused analysis. Recent scholarship on explanations and apologies allows greater insight into the role they play in conflict resolution, and their importance to an early offers proposal in the field of medical malpractice. This Essay considers such scholarship and explores the advantages of combining early offers with explanations of the incident and/or apologies.