A few years ago, before my wife was released from the hospital after hip replacement surgery, her leg began swelling up and she had great pain and discomfort. Quickly she was sent back to surgery to have a previously undetected bleeder repaired. The highly respected surgeon obviously missed it. Next day a huge bouquet of roses appeared in her hospital room, sent by that very doctor. And then, perhaps coincidentally, he retired from practice within the next few weeks. I don’t recall now whether he actually said he was sorry for his error, but the roses gave us every indication that he was. It was a malpractice suit waiting to happen.
We had no intention to sue him and we didn’t, but of course he couldn’t have known that. We were actually pleased that he acknowledged his error (indirectly at least). Contrary to the belief of some surgeons, he was as subject to error-making as any other human being.
These days it looks like saying you’re sorry seems to be catching on in the medical world (see here). According to this article, it not only makes everyone feel better, but saying you’re sorry also actually cuts down on medical malpractice suits. I'd guess that being honest is one way to deal with the current debates about cutting medical costs. As many politicians are learning these days, things get much worse when you try to cover up your mistakes.