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ACT NO. 142


Safe apology; Sorry Works! pilot program

This act provides that any oral expression of regret or apology, including any oral good faith explanation of how a medical error occurred, made by or on behalf of a health care provider or health care facility that is provided within 30 days of when the provider or facility knew or should have known of the consequences of the error does not constitute a legal admission of liability for any purpose and is inadmissible in any civil or administrative proceeding against the health care provider or health care facility, including any arbitration or mediation proceeding. The act does not limit access to information that is otherwise discoverable.

The act also establishes a Sorry Works! pilot program under the oversight of the commissioner of the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration. Under the program, participating hospitals and physicians are required to promptly acknowledge and apologize for mistakes in patient care that result in harm and promptly offer fair settlements.  If a settlement is accepted, further litigation with respect to the mistake shall be prohibited. In consultation with hospitals, providers, and other interested parties, the department is required to adopt rules to implement the pilot program no later than October 1, 2006, and to report to the general assembly on or before January 15, 2009 on the implementation and administration of the program, including the value of extending the program and any recommendations to facilitate participation. The program sunsets on June 30, 2009.

Effective Date: July 1, 2006

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont