Redefining Informed Consent in Wisconsin Medical Malpractice
A 2012 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling may possibly expand the definition of informed consent to include treatments and tests that physicians may not consider advisable or necessary. This would have implications for medical malpractice as well as the cost of public health.
Wisconsin Medical Malpractice Case Study
A 43-year-old patient Thomas Jandre was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy when a CT scan showed he was negative for hemorrhagic stroke. Eleven days after the ER visit Jandre suffered a massive stroke because of the undetected but nearly completely blocked right internal carotid artery. The family sued the ER doctor for neglecting to provide Jandre with information on his diagnostic options that would have detected the blockage, even though the symptoms did not seem to indicate the need for such tests. Jandre was awarded $2 million in damages, a ruling upheld in the state appellate court as well as the Supreme Court.
Implications for Wisconsin Medical Malpractice
The ruling may serve as a basis for the expansion of the current informed consent laws embodied in the Wisconsin Department of Health Services section on Informed Consent (Chapter 94 Section 03) which does specify the need for informed consent to perform alternative treatment modes, but not for alternative tests or treatments that the attending physician does not believe necessary or beneficial to a particular patient. Because of the ruling in the Jandre case, physicians may have to practice what is termed as “defensive medicine” which may result in the performance of unnecessary tests and alternative treatments to guard against coming under fire.
Despite the financial implications, the broadening of patients’ rights to know about their medical condition and options and physician accountability is thought to eventually lead to better health care. If you believe you have not been provided with sufficient information in your medical care, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer in Wisconsin to assess your case.