Doctors' Confessions

Doctors' Confessions No Longer Admissible in Evidence in Colorado Medical Malpractice Cases

Admissions of fault by negligent physicians are no longer admissible in evidence in malpractice trials in Colorado. As incredible as this may seem, Colorado's republican-dominated legislature passed, and republican Governor Bill Owens signed, a bill that keeps confessions of fault from being heard or considered by juries. The legislation was advocated by COPIC, the state's largest medical malpractice insurance company, for the purported purpose of encouraging physicians to speak frankly and openly to their patients about medical mistakes.

Of course, we all know the real reason COPIC advocated this legislation. Doctors' admissions often conflict with the defenses that COPIC's lawyers come up with later, rendering the defense unusable. With their clients' admissions and confessions no longer relevant, COPIC's attorneys are free to come up with any defense they think they can sell to a jury, confident in the knowledge that their own clients' words will not come back to haunt them. This is the truth about "tort reform." It is not about making malpractice insurance cheaper or more available, nor is it about discouraging frivolous lawsuits. It is all about money.

Not only does this bill make it easier for guilty physicians to avoid the often disastrous consequences of their careless acts, the bill transforms the trial process from a search for truth into a shell game.