Pa. Legislature Introduces Bills Addressing Delegation of Informed Consent by Physicians

Last Updated: Jun 17, 2019

physician-patient-talkingThe Pennsylvania General Assembly has introduced two bills to address the state Supreme Court’s decision regarding the authority of a physician to delegate the task of obtaining a patient’s informed consent to another practitioner. 

In June 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled, in a 4-3 decision in the case of Shinal v. Toms, that physicians have a non-delegable duty under the MCare Act to obtain a patient’s informed consent. Additionally, the Court ruled that communications between a physician’s qualified staff members and patients will no longer be admissible at trial to establish whether the physician obtained informed consent. 

The Shinal v. Toms ruling severely hampers the concept of team-based care and takes away a physician’s medical expertise and judgment in determining how best to serve his or her patients. 

You can find the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s (PAMED) overview of the Shinal v. Toms ruling here.

Informed Consent Advocacy

At PAMED’s 2017 House of Delegates meeting, physician delegates enacted policy directing PAMED to work in consultation with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) to seek a legislative remedy to the Supreme Court’s decision.  After working steadily on this issue for more than a year, PAMED and HAP were successful in getting bills introduced:

  • HB 1580 was introduced by Rep. Paul Schemel (R-90) and was referred to the House Health Committee on June 7, 2019. 
  • SB 761 was introduced by Sen. John Gordner (R-27) and was referred to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on June 12, 2019.

PAMED thanks both Rep. Schemel and Sen. Gordner. We will be tracking this legislation closely and working with the legislature in hopes of getting it enacted quickly.

Additional Resources

PAMED offers information that can help physicians and health care organizations navigate the informed consent process. We summarize a physician’s obligations under Pa.’s informed consent law, discuss potential legal risk, and provide recommendations. 

Get informed consent resources here.

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