Apologies legislation comes into force
Saying sorry will not be seen as an admission of liability, thanks to new Act
Dentists in Scotland have been assured that apologising to patients, outside of legal proceedings, will not be seen as an admission of legal liability.
The Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016 came into force at the end of June and provides legal protection for dental professionals when apologising to patients. The Act defines an apology as: “…any statement made by or on behalf of a person which indicates that the person is sorry about, or regrets, an act, omission or outcome and includes any part of the statement which contains an undertaking to look at the circumstances giving rise to the act, omission or outcome with a view to preventing a recurrence.”
Angela Harkins, DDU dento-legal adviser, said: “Saying sorry to a patient when something has gone wrong is the right thing to do and is an ethical duty for dental professionals. The Apologies (Scotland) Act provides further reassurance to dental professionals that apologising is not an admission of legal liability. In the DDU’s experience, a sincere and frank apology and explanation can help restore a patient’s confidence following an error and help to rebuild trust. This is important for a patient’s future healthcare and can help to avoid a complaint or litigation.”
Dental professionals have a professional duty of candour, set out in the GDC’s standards for the dental team which states that when dealing with complaints: “You should offer an apology and a practical solution where appropriate.”