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Medigram Alert: Bill clarifying informed consent signed into law

(December 13, 2013)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker today signed Assembly Bill 139 (AB 139), which clarifies physicians’ informed consent responsibilities in response to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund.

Following the Court’s decision, the Wisconsin Medical Society, along with the Wisconsin Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Wisconsin Hospital Association, spearheaded efforts to remedy the resulting case law, which the Society believes could have led to increased defensive medicine and patient confusion. The Society worked closely with Rep. Jim Ott, Sen. Glenn Grothman and other lawmakers to introduce and pass the legislation signed today.

“This is a significant victory for preserving our state’s high-quality health care environment,” said Society President Timothy McAvoy, MD, in a news release. “Without this clarifying legislation, patients might have undergone tests that their physicians believed weren’t necessary. The Society thanks Gov. Walker and the State Legislature for their support of AB 139, which acknowledges the expertise and medical judgment of the outstanding physicians in our state.”

AB 139 has two important elements. It establishes a “reasonable physician” standard for what information should be provided to the patient. The Jandre decision created a potential “hindsight 20/20” standard, where a physician’s missed diagnosis could lead to absolute liability, whether or not the physician was negligent.

The bill also states clearly that a physician need not provide a patient with information about alternate modes of treatment for conditions the physician already has ruled out. This clarification gets to the heart of the confusion in the three disparate opinions of the Jandre decision.

Click here for a summary* of the Jandre case prepared by Society General Counsel Ruth Heitz, JD. For more information, e-mail Mark Grapentine, JD, in the Society’s Government Relations Department.

*(Member log-in is required to access case summaries. Click here to access the log-in page. Additional member log-in information is here.)