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Society testifies in support of bills clarifying informed consent law

Release Date: April 11, 2013
Contact: Lisa Hildebrand - 608.442.3765 lisa.hildebrand@wismed.org

MADISON – The Wisconsin Medical Society voiced its support for Assembly Bill 139 (AB139) and Senate Bill 137 (SB137) today during public hearings of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. The bills clarify the state’s informed consent statute (Wis. Stats. 448.30) in response to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent decision in Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund.

The Society believes that the Jandre decision is the latest in a line of informed consent-related cases pushing Wisconsin’s health care away from more efficient care, and these companion bills would cure concerns that the case could promote inefficient “defensive medicine.” Others who testified in support of the bills included Society member Howard Croft, MD, on behalf of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

“Since the informed consent statute first took effect in 1982, Wisconsin case law has moved to an untenable situation best noted by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who provided a warning with his concurring opinion in Jandre: ‘[T]he law of informed consent is being expanded beyond its original scope and purpose, with profound consequences for the practice of medicine,’ ” the Society said in its testimony.

The three separate opinions in the Jandre decision underscore the complexity and need for clarity on the informed consent issue, the testimony said. The Society also testified that that case law has gradually pushed physicians’ informed consent requirements to a place that is arguably no longer useful to either physicians or patients.

“Failure to respond to the Court’s call to clarify the law could result in physicians facing automatic liability whenever a diagnosis is missed – even if there is no negligence,” the testimony said. “As a result, physicians could be forced to order ever more tests and describe a myriad of potential conditions and treatments to every patient. This move toward “defensive medicine” would be costly, inefficient and counter to society’s call for more affordable, high-quality health care.”

With more than 12,000 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients, the Wisconsin Medical Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state and a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841.