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Informed consent bill heads to Assembly

The State Senate on Tuesday night passed Assembly Bill 139 (AB 139), which provides vital clarification of the state’s physician informed consent law. AB 139 now moves back to the State Assembly, where a vote to concur is likely on November 5. Once concurrence occurs, the bill heads to Gov. Scott Walker for final action.

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. Because of the potential impact the decision could have on how physicians provide care every day, clarifying the state’s informed consent statute has been the Society’s top legislative priority this session.

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 potentially meaningless “hindsight 20/20” standard, where a physician’s missed diagnosis could lead to instant liability, whether or not the physician was negligent in the mistaken diagnosis.

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.

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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