Health and Science
Thu April 11, 2013
New Bill, Aiming To Reduce Liability, Would Change What Doctors Tell Patients
A medical bill supported by health care providers is on a legislative fast track in Wisconsin. It could change what doctors tell patients about treatment options and could reduce liability when things go wrong.
Under Wisconsin's informed consent law, doctors have to tell patients about viable treatment options based on what a reasonable patient would want to know. A Republican bill flips that standard to what a reasonable doctor thinks should be told to a patient.
Democratic state Representative Gary Hebl of Sun Prairie questioned what the bill would mean for diagnosis and treatment: “It seems to be towards an anti-consumer protection mode here.”
Guy DuBeau is an attorney who has represented doctors in malpractice cases. At a public hearing, he told lawmakers too much information can be overwhelming for the patient.
“You're inviting patients to second-guess their doctor’s own judgment when you tell physicians that you have to say, 'Here's what I think, but also here is everything you ought to know about what I don't think.”
The current law has exemptions; doctors do not have to discuss remote possibilities; however, the bills' author, Mequon Republican Representative Jim Ott says court decisions in favor of patients are pushing informed consent beyond what some hospitals, doctors and business groups think is reasonable.
“As a result of these court decisions we are in fact expanding the amount of information that is going to have to be given to the fringes where it is not pertinent.”
Ott says the bill probably not would decrease malpractice cases but might reduce defensive medicine, where doctors try to safeguard against malpractice by ordering tests that may not be necessary.
Health and Science