Wisconsin Healthcare “Apology Bill” Scheduled for Assembly Vote Tomorrow
On Tuesday October 25th, the Wisconsin Assembly is scheduled to vote on AB 147. The bill provides that a statement or conduct of a health care provider or a provider’s agent or employee that expresses apology, benevolence, compassion, condolence, fault, liability, remorse, responsibility, or sympathy to a patient or patient’s relative or representative is not admissible into evidence or subject to discovery as evidence of liability or as an admission against interest in any civil action or administrative hearing regarding the health care provider. The bill had been advanced by the Assembly Committee on Health on a vote of 7-3.
The companion bill, SB 103, was passed out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations on a vote of 3-2. It has not yet been scheduled for a floor vote.
Advocates for the bill indicate that the bill will encourage open and honest communication between the health care providers and their patients, and will encourage providers to offer heartfelt statements of concern or apology without a fear that those statements will be used against them in litigation.
Some critics of the bill contend that it goes too far. For example, the State Bar Litigation Section supports an amendment that would made expressions of apology, benevolence, compassion, condolence, remorse, or sympathy inadmissible; but statements expressing fault, liability and responsibility would remain admissible.
The Health Law team at von Briesen will continue to monitor the progress of Assembly Bill 147, including the bill’s vote in the Assembly and its progress in the Senate.