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Bill clarifying informed consent law heads to Gov. Walker

The Wisconsin Medical Society thanks the State Legislature for its support of Assembly Bill 139 (AB 139), which provides vital clarification of the state’s physician informed consent law. The bill was introduced after the Society and other organizations voiced concerns about the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund.

AB 139 now is eligible for Gov. Scott Walker to “call for” the bill, which would start the process for signing it into law.

“This is another example of the Society’s value to all physicians in the state,” said Society President Timothy McAvoy, MD, following Tuesday’s vote by the Assembly. “All physicians will benefit from the clarification of informed consent law – much like how all have benefitted from our defense of the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund and the enormous effort to provide input in the Medical Examining Board’s work on various administrative code changes.”

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, which the Society and others believe could lead to increased defensive medicine and patient confusion.

Joining the Society in this effort were the American College of Emergency Physician, Wisconsin Hospital Association and other groups.

“We’re pleased the Legislature understands the importance of this issue, and we thank the bill’s main authors – Rep. Jim Ott and Sen. Glenn Grothman – and all who voted for the legislation,” Dr. McAvoy said in a news release “Wisconsin is among the best states in the nation for high-quality, high-value health care, and this bill reinforces that tradition. It also emphasizes the importance of the patient-physician relationship and acknowledges the expertise and medical judgment of the physicians in our state.”

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.)

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