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Rep. Severson-sponsored bill over doctor-to-patient apologies moves forward

MADISON -- A bill that's up for approval next week would let Wisconsin doctors apologize for bad patient outcomes without those remarks being used against them in court.

Assembly Democrats blocked passage of the measure Tuesday, but majority Republicans could bring it back as early as next Tuesday.

Freshman Assembly Republican Erik Severson of Star Prairie and Senate Republican Pam Galloway of Wausau sponsored the measure. Both are physicians.

Mark Grapentine of the State Medical Society says patients need to hear words of support from their doctors at times of trouble - but those conversations won't happen unless doctors get legal protections. Doctors say they must be assured their words won't be twisted and used in malpractice suits to show that they were at legal fault.

Trial lawyers say the bill goes too far. Mike End of the Wisconsin Association for Justice says it's wrong for doctors to win immunity if they tell patients they're "at fault, responsible, or liable" for their bad outcomes.

If the Assembly okays the bill, it would then go to the Senate.