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Apology Bill co-sponsors sought

State Rep. Erik Severson, MD, is seeking co-sponsors for “Apology Bill” legislation aimed at fostering more communication between physicians and patients/family members at the most difficult times of a health care encounter – when an outcome isn’t what was hoped for. The proposed legislation would help promote more discussions by keeping these all-too-human and sympathetic interactions out of the courtroom.

The legislation promotes statements of apology or condolence following an unexpected or negative health care event. It would provide statutory protection for such statements, promoting more full and frank communications between a physician and a patient or the patient’s family at a time when such communication is needed the most. Various studies have shown that silence at this time often pushes a patient/family member into filing a lawsuit as a way to get answers to questions following a negative outcome.

The legislation does nothing to remove the ability of a capable plaintiff’s attorney to utilize current discovery methods and other legal means to explore whether a medical outcome warrants a lawsuit. The proposed legislation is a well-reasoned bill in the critical area of physician-patient communications.

The Wisconsin Medical Society supports broad protections for these important conversations and opposes restricting the types of statements, gestures or forms of conduct that are covered. Physicians who support this legislation are encouraged to contact their state legislators and ask them to co-sponsor Rep. Severson’s bill draft. Click here to find their contact information.

Physician members also are invited to join the Society’s Key Legislative Contact program to relay medical information to elected officials. To learn more about the program, click here or e-mail Director of State and Federal Relations Chris Rasch in the Society’s Government Relations Department.

Back to March 21, 2013 Medigram