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State legislature takes action on overdose prevention, doctor condolence bills

The Wisconsin Medical Society praised both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature for their actions Tuesday, when both the Assembly and Senate advanced important bills.

Physician Apology/Condolence bill
The State Assembly approved Assembly Bill 120, which promotes more communication between a physician and a patient and a patient’s family, especially following a negative medical outcome when communication is most needed.

Heading into last week’s successful Doctor Day at the Capitol, the bill was essentially stalled. But following Doctor Day, it was added to the Assembly floor calendar, where it ultimately was passed on a voice vote.

“Clear and open communication between the physician and patient can only help folks understand why outcomes happened the way they did,” said Society president Timothy McAvoy in this press release. “But the fear of being sued for something that’s said far too often pushes physicians away, exactly when they should be reaching out.”

“This bill will provide a safe environment that fosters those needed conversations. We thank the bill’s author, Rep. Erik Severson, MD, and those who supported the bill,” McAvoy added.

AB 120 now moves to the State Senate, where it may face a stronger challenge. The Society will ask members to make calls to their State Senators to garner support at the appropriate time.

Heroin and Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) package
The State Senate approved four bills—known as the HOPE package—aimed at combating the state’s growing problem of heroin and other drug abuse. The bills will allow for greater use of the anti-overdose drug naloxone by emergency first responders (AB 446), provide limited immunity for those making 9-1-1 calls following an overdose (AB 447), make it easier for local government to create drug disposal programs (AB 448) and require identification when receiving certain prescription drugs (AB 445).

“These bills are an important first step as we fight back against this horrible scourge,” said Dr. McAvoy. “The HOPE package gives us a great chance to be successful in this fight– the bills are aimed at saving lives and monitoring drug distribution rather than taking a prosecutorial approach. That’s the thoughtful way to approach this issue, and we applaud Representative (John) Nygren, Senator Sheila Harsdorf and the bipartisan support for these bills.”

They now move on to Governor Walker’s desk for final action.

Back to February 20, 2014 Medigram