UW Legal Expert: Proposed Change Puts Patients' Rights at Risk
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
MADISON, Wis. - In Wisconsin, the concept of "informed consent" means a doctor must give the patient the tools necessary to make an informed decision about their care. However, the state Legislature is considering changing that law, to let doctors decide which treatments or diagnoses patients should know about.
A doctor's failure to obtain informed consent is a form of malpractice, said Meg Gaines, a University of Wisconsin law professor, adding that such cases are very rare.
"Frankly, it doesn't happen that often in Wisconsin, and I think that's fine," she said. "That's not the point. The point is that we need to move forward on engaging patients in determinations about what should happen next."
Current law is based on having reasonably informed patients make the ultimate decision about what they want their doctor to do.
Gaines described a "reasonably informed patient" as "neither someone who says, 'I don't want to know anything, doc, just do what you gotta do' - which is sort of, probably unreasonably, not wanting to know - nor a patient who says, 'I need to know everything down to the microscopic level. I want to see all the tapes, all the results, I want to talk to all the physicians you had reading my diagnostic tests, I want, I want, I want ...' "
There were 117 cases filed alleging malpractice in Wisconsin in 2012. Gaines said that isn't many.
"If you are an insurance carrier for malpractice in the average state, you pay out 83 cents on every dollar you take in in premiums," Gaines said. "In Wisconsin, you pay out 45 cents."
Before taking away a patient's right to self-determination, Gaines said lawmakers should be taking more time to carefully consider such a fundamental revision.
"We seem to have driven right past that exit - or, at least, we seem to be driving right past that exit in this bill," she said, "and I hope that we will pull off at roadside assistance and get ourselves a Blue Ribbon Commission."
Supporters of the proposed change in the law said it addresses a malpractice problem, but Gaines said it's a problem that doesn't exist in Wisconsin. The State Assembly will discuss the bill Thursday.
The measures are AB-139 and SB-137.
get more stories like this via email
Voting advocates say more and more Michiganders are choosing to cast absentee ballots to save time and avoid long lines on Election Day. In 2020…
With the election a little over a month away, some say caregiving and long-term care are issues too big for candidates in Oregon to ignore. There …
Health and Wellness
COVID upended many routines, including Texas parents getting kids in for regularly scheduled childhood vaccines. Data from the Texas Department of …
Pennsylvania has a strong commitment to urban agriculture and community gardening, and some groups in the state are working to get more colorful …
Georgia Power is reducing its reliance on coal by phasing out several coal-fired units. However, clean-energy advocates say the company should …
A new report on Black students in the community college system found fewer are signing up to attend two-year schools, and the college enrollment …
Greenhouse gas emissions have been potentially reduced by 50,000 tons in the state, with the help of Wisconsin farmers supported by a statewide …
Social Security benefits again could see their highest increase in several decades, but those advocating for beneficiaries in Wisconsin and elsewhere …