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Corbett Says Doctors Should Be Able To Apologize Without Fueling Lawsuits

(Surrounded by supporters, Gov. Corbett ceremonially "signs" legislation he says will improve the doctor-patient relationship.  Credit: Tony Romeo)

(Surrounded by supporters, Gov. Corbett ceremonially “signs” legislation he says will improve the doctor-patient relationship. Credit: Tony Romeo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Indicating his apparent eagerness to sign the real thing, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett today signed a ceremonial version of a bill that will allow health care providers to express sympathy and make compassionate gestures to patients and their families without having their words or actions used against them in a malpractice lawsuit.

During the photo-op signing before the actual bill was submitted to the governor, Corbett said the change allowing doctors to offer condolences will improve the relationship between patients and their health care providers.

“We do this because we should not discourage human beings from sharing empathy with one another after a tragedy,” he said.

State senator Pat Vance (R-Cumberland/York, seated at left in photo) championed the legislation for years.

“Many lawsuits were filed out of anger just because the family and the patient thought that the health care professional just didn’t care,” she noted today.

The measure is the second of several pieces of health-related legislation the governor has been seeking.  Last week he signed a bill extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) and eliminating a waiting period to enroll in that program.