Serving Chiropractors and Their Patients

Legislative Effort to Alter Nature of Informed Consent

Following a major Supreme Court decision, a new Wisconsin legislative effort has been initiated by the Republican majority  to revise a physician’s duty of informed consent.  The decision, rendered in the case of Jandre v. Physicians Insurance Co. of Wisconsin, involved a jury verdict decided  nearly a decade ago, in which a medical doctor was found negligent for failing to inform a patient about alternative medical modes of treatment for a condition.  This application of “informed consent” was unique in the case since the doctor was held liable for failing to provide the information on a condition which the physician did not believe that the patient had at the time the doctor provided information to the patient.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a standard of care involving informed consent which is referred to as the “reasonable person standard”.  Under this standard, the physician is required to disclose to the patient of treatment information necessary for a reasonable person (patient) to make an intelligent decision with respect to the choices of treatment or diagnosis.  As a result, physicians must disclose information to the patient even if the doctor  does not believe that the patient had a condition which requires the alternative mode of care or treatment.  The decision was nearly 75 pages long and involved a 4-3 decision by the Justices of the Supreme Court.

This type of legislation would be applicable to the chiropractic profession in this state since the standard on informed consent is basically the same for chiropractors in Wisconsin as it is for medical doctors.  The Court last addressed the standard of informed consent for chiropractors in the  2005 case ofHannemann v. Boyson.  (This site has a detailed “white paper” on this subject found at resources DR2403.)