When Doctors Say, "We're Sorry"

Aggrieved patients often just want an apology, but will admitting a mistake increase the risk of a lawsuit?

It's easy to understand why Trish and Andy Olson initially considered suing. But more than money, what the suburban St. Paul, Minn., couple wanted from the hospital was a genuine apology. Their son Owen, 7, born with spina bifida and a range of other birth defects, had already endured more than 40 operations by the time he was taken to the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota for treatment of a suspected infection last fall. Because the staff on duty that night forgot to attach a catheter to Owen, doctors ended up having to take emergency action several hours later, first using...

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