Medical Malpractice Statutes

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231 § 60D. M.G.L. c. 231 § 60D sets forth a special statute of limitation for child victims of medical malpractice. In effect it states that children who were under the full age of six years old when the medical malpractice occurred have until their ninth birthday to file suit against their doctor. The statute of repose codified in this section is essentially identical to the seven-year statute of repose for medical malpractice found in G.L. c. 260 § 4.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 233 § 23D. M.G.L. c. 233 § 23D is not a statute specifically limited to medical malpractice cases, but it frequently comes up in the context of medical malpractice lawsuits. In effect it forbids a doctor's expression of sympathy to his patient from being used against him in a medical malpractice case. The statute states in relevant part: "Statements, writings or benevolent gestures expressing sympathy or a general sense of benevolence relating to the pain, suffering or death of a person involved in an accident and made to such a person or the family of such a person shall be inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability in a civil action." So, for example, if a doctor says, "What happened to you was really terrible," G.L. c. 233 § 23D can bar that statement from being introduced to prove that the doctor committed medical malpractice. It is important, however, to distinguish between a doctor's apology or "expression of sympathy" and a doctor's admission that he committed medical malpractice. Explicit and implicit admissions by a doctor that he committed medical malpractice can be used as evidence against him to prove that he committed medical malpractice. Collins v. Baron, 392 Mass. 565 (1984). In fact, to a jury, a doctor's admission of liability might the most powerful evidence of medical malpractice that there is.

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