(MADISON) Today the Wisconsin State Legislature passed the so called “I’m Sorry” bill, which prevents the use of fault or liability statements made by medical professionals as evidence in a civil, administrative, and disciplinary proceedings. Under the bill, any statement made on behalf of a healthcare provider that in some way admits responsibility, liability, or fault cannot be used in court. This bill shields negligent healthcare providers and their staff who cause harm from liability for their malpractice.
30 other states have passed similar “I’m Sorry” bills, allowing medical professionals to express their condolences and sympathy towards patients and their families. However, the majority of these bills do not establish the same extreme measures as the bill passed by the Wisconsin Legislature. Wisconsin is now the only state to exempt statements of fault and liability from being used as evidence.
Instead of following successful models in states around the nation, AB 120 deviates from the moral and ethical codes of responsibility which our courts and legislature have established to minimize malpractice and protect patients and their families. In the most extreme scenarios, the broadness of this bill has the potential of lessening a doctor’s legal responsibility. This GOP led bill makes any statement of obvious fault inadmissible, even in scenarios where doctors admit to serious unprofessional conduct such as being drunk on the job.
Under the guise of improving doctor/patient communication, AB 120 has created another obstacle for patients and families seeking retribution for malpractice or mistreatment on behalf of medical staff. This bill does nothing to improve patient safety, healthcare costs, or accountability for malpractice. Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) has stated, “As an attorney for over two decades, I know that this legislation is irresponsible. This bill hinders a patient’s right and ability to seek justice in our legal system. Instead of protecting the most vulnerable among, the legislature today grossly overstepped its boundary.”