Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

In a "Sorry" State: The Ethics of Institutional Apologies in Response to Medical Error

Boyer, Autumn R. (2009) In a "Sorry" State: The Ethics of Institutional Apologies in Response to Medical Error. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (527kB) | Preview


The rise in prominence of public apologies since the mid 1990s and increased awareness of the frequency and severity of medical errors in the United States has led to scholarly and professional interest in doctors' apologies in response to medical error. Literature targeting health care professionals indicates a growing consensus about the ethical and professional imperatives for apology. However, it also exposes the authors' difficulty in achieving conceptual clarity about apology and its application to modern clinical practice carried out by multiple providers within complex medical, legal, and insurance systems.This project articulates the ethical underpinnings of apology and establishes ethically and professionally appropriate responses--both by clinicians and administrators of health care institutions--to medical error. Foundationally, this argument includes clarifying salient distinctions related to medical error and adverse events and conceptualizing apology as it is applicable to health care contexts. In sum, a policy or culture of responsibility--to which apology may instrumentally contribute--is ethically valuable and contributes to overall quality of care in contemporary health care institutions. The roles and responsibilities of clinicians and administrators within a culture of responsibility are discussed, in addition to the structure, applications, limitations, and ethical considerations of policies regarding apology.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Boyer, Autumn R.arp18@pitt.eduARP18
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairParker, Lisa Slisap@pitt.eduLISAP
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberWicclair, Markwicclair@pitt.eduWICCLAIR
Date: 4 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 12 March 2009
Approval Date: 4 June 2009
Submission Date: 20 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Bioethics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: apology; Jesica Santillan; medical error; medical ethics; responsibility
Other ID:, etd-04202009-132523
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item