Latest News

  • April 19, 2018 8:10 PM | Deleted user

    WMS Medigram, April 19

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, a case involving a constitutional challenge to Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases (Cap). The case could have far-reaching effects on Wisconsin’s well-balanced, relatively stable medical liability environment.

    On July 5, 2017 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals struck down the Cap, concluding that it violates the equal protection rights of plaintiffs in medical liability cases. The Wisconsin Supreme Court subsequently agreed to review the lower appellate court’s decision. On Jan. 18, 2018 the Society, along with the AMA Litigation Center, filed an amicus brief in support of the Cap, explaining its value to patients and the health care community alike. For more background on the Mayo case, see this article from the Oct. 9, 2014 Medigram.

    Today’s arguments provided the Court’s seven members with the opportunity to ask questions, follow up on points raised in briefs, including the Society’s amicus brief, and give an indication of their thinking.

    “It’s clear from the questions raised today that the Court understands the lengths the legislature went to create a well-balanced, comprehensive medical liability system that provides unique protections for Wisconsin patients and why the cap is essential to that system,” said Society General Counsel John Rather, JD. “We are encouraged with what we heard today and are hopeful the Court will restore the cap.”

    The Court spent a considerable portion of the arguments exploring the relationship of the Cap to controlling health care liability and overall health care costs, attracting and retaining physicians and protecting the viability of the Fund.

    A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by mid-summer. For more information, contact John Rather, JD. For an in-depth examination of the Mayo case and its implications for Wisconsin health care, listen to Episode 3 of WisMed OnCall, “The Mayo Case and Its Potential Impact,” available here.

  • April 18, 2018 12:41 PM | Deleted user

    Lisa Maurer, MD, FACEP

    Wisconsin is unique.  We use the word "bubbler."  We drink our Old Fashioneds with brandy.  And our process for Emergency Detention psychiatric holds is unlike most you’ll find in most of the rest of the country.  Yeah us!

    A big headline you need to know about is the recent passage of new WI law that changes the liability environment around ED holds for physicians.  We’ve enlisted help from an attorney to interpret this new law from the viewpoint of an emergency physician, so be sure to read his summary memo and FAQs.  This new law clarifies that if you have concern that a patient should be on an ED hold and notify the proper authorities, you are not responsible for involuntarily treating the patient or preventing them from leaving the hospital if the patient is not placed on hold.  What’s more, you are not liable for any harm done by the patient to him/herself or others thereafter. 

    One question that came up during our most recent WACEP board meeting was, "does this new statute mean that if we do not reach out to county officials for an ED hold that we are at increased liability risk for future harm done?"  Our legal counsel says "no."  As always, be sure to document your reasoning for why information available to you at the time of evaluation leads you to conclude there is not a substantial probability of harm.  

    Lastly, we asked for clarification of the language in this bill which protects physicians from liability in releasing personal health information (PHI) to third parties in good faith due to lessen a threat of future harm.  For example, a physician would be protected from liability if he/she shared information to a third party about a patient is homicidal toward a particular individual.  The question was whether this interpretation could be extended to cover liability for releasing PHI to friends or family members of a patient who accidentally overdoses on opioids, with the thinking that informing third parties may reduce risk of future self-harm by the patient. Legal counsel states there is a potential safe harbor in this law for doing so, but interpretation really hinges on whether you conclude that an accidental overdose translates to true risk of self-harm.  Since the risk of self-harm is your judgement to make as a physician, use this information to help protect you if you believe a patient is at clear risk for future self-harm; be sure to properly document that risk to be in compliance with federal, and now state HIPAA law. 

    Also, here at WACEP, improving the process for caring for our patients in psychiatric crisis is one of our top priority goals.  I’m so excited to let you know that we are actively working with the Wisconsin Psychiatric Association on removing barriers to shortening the length of stay for our patients in the ED on Chapter 51 holds.  We’re even discussing if there could be a statewide common-sense standard for “medical clearance” before psychiatric admissions, based on physician assessment of medical risk rather than predetermined cookbook protocols.  The sub-committee of physicians from both organizations working on this topic is looking to change your practice for the better, so please let us know if you have input.

  • April 18, 2018 12:24 PM | Deleted user

    WACEP members are invited to participate and help out at the upcoming mock Oral Boards events at both MCW and UW! If you are interested, please reach out directly as indicated below.

    Medical College of Wisconsin - Mock Oral Boards Day at MCW is Thursday, May 31st from approximately 7:30 am to 12:00 pm. Volunteers are needed for a minimum two-hour time slot, or for the full session. Any help from WACEP members is appreciated. Sign up to volunteer by contacting Jamie Aranda, MD at

    University of Wisconsin – Oral Boards Day for residents at UW is Thursday, June 7th from 8:00 to 11:00 am. Cases will be prepared ahead of time, and faculty will be responsible for administering the cases to residents and providing feedback on their performance. Four or five volunteers are being sought from outside UW’s EM department. If interested, please contact Aaron Kraut, MD at

  • April 18, 2018 11:11 AM | Deleted user

    Eric Jensen, WACEP Lobbyist  

    Mayo v. WIPFCF, et al.: The Mayo case will be argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday, April 19th.  Before the Court is an Appeals Court decision rendering Wisconsin’s cap on non-economic damages in medical liability cases unconstitutional.  At present, pending the Court’s decision (not expected until sometime this summer), there is effectively no cap on non-economic damages.  WACEP led a coalition of eight medical specialty organizations in writing and submitting an Amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in defense of the caps.

    AB 538 Signed into Law: Governor Walker signed Assembly Bill 538 (now 2017 Act 140) providing emergency physicians additional liability protections in cases involving involuntary commitments.  Quoting from a memo written by WACEP counsel, Guy DuBeau:

    "The Act accomplishes three major goals toward this end. Specifically, the Act clarifies that providers acting in good faith can seek, without fear of liability, emergency detention even though the process must be formally initiated by law enforcement or county crisis workers. The Act also provides greater control over transfers in that it requires emergency providers to agree that transfer is medically appropriate before the transfer can be made by law enforcement. Lastly, the Act explicitly aligns Wisconsin law with HIPAA by noting that providers may disclose information to third parties in good faith effort to prevent or lessen as serious and imminent threat to third parties."

    Medicaid Reimbursement for Emergency Physician Services: Known all too well to you, Wisconsin lags the nation in terms of Medicaid reimbursement for physician services, ranking a shocking 50th for its rate paid for Level 2, 3 and 4 trauma services; it’s a remarkable situation given Wisconsin’s consistently high overall healthcare rankings.  In early April, WACEP President, Lisa Maurer, MD and WACEP’s government affairs consultant met with new Medicaid Director, Heather Smith, in our continuing effort to educate policy-makers about the situation and its consequences for emergency care in Wisconsin, and ultimately to increase reimbursements to a level that is at least competitive with our border states. 

    Earlier this year, WACEP succeeded in convincing the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, and ultimately the full Legislature, to insert a provision into the State Budget bill directing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to convene a working group including WACEP members to discuss ideas for saving money in Medicaid emergency room services to be used to increase reimbursements without increasing overall taxpayer dollars committed.  At the request of the prior Medicaid Director, Governor Walker ultimately vetoed the provision citing overlapping existing efforts within DHS; but the issue is now on the radar screens of policy makers in the Legislature and Administration.

    Doctor Day 2018 and 2019: As many of you know, on January 30th nearly 500 physicians and medical students came to Madison for the 5th annual Doctor Day advocacy event – our biggest turnout yet!  While in Madison, attendees heard from Governor Walker, received a legal update on the Mayo case in which a state appeals court invalidated Wisconsin’s non-economic damages cap for medical liability cases, appeal of which is now pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, listened to a legal discussion relating to network adequacy and surprise billing.  The morning session wrapped with briefings on issues including worker’s compensation, advanced practice nurse collaboration and chiropractors conducting youth sports physicals.   Once again, following an afternoon of legislative visits attendees retired to a nearby restaurant for debriefing and camaraderie. Looking ahead, next year’s event will be scheduled later in the year to better coincide with the Legislature’s primary activity for the year – the State Budget.  Subject to change, Doctor Day 2019 is tentatively scheduled for May 1, 2019 – mark your calendars now!

    Chiropractor Sports Physicals: One of the items discussed at Doctor Day, Assembly Bill 260, in its original form would have authorized chiropractors to conduct youth pre-participation athletic physical exams and require the WIAA to accept those exams for athletic participation. WACEP joined a large number of health care organizations opposing AB 260, but last June the bill passed the State Assembly.  In the wake of Doctor Day, however, the Senate Health Committee amended AB 260 to remove the sports physical authority (with the amendment, physician organizations dropped their opposition).  The amended AB 260 then passed the Senate, was concurred in by the Assembly and ultimately signed by Governor Walker.  This is a testament to the impact of physicians can have lobbying their lawmakers at Doctor Day!

    Campaign Season is Upon Us: Finally, with an odd-year Spring finally upon us, the Legislature has formally adjourned the 2917-18 Session and heads off to campaign for November.  Republicans presently dominate Wisconsin politics holding the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, a 63-35 majority in the Assembly and a 18-15 majority in the Senate.  November will see races for Governor, Attorney General, all 99 Assembly seats and 17 of the 33 Senate seats.  (As well as all 8 of Wisconsin’s Congressional seats and one U.S. Senate seat.)  Recent special elections and Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin, as well as other states, suggest a typical anti-President’s party mid-term election coming.  Republicans downplay prospects of a “blue wave” election favoring Democrats, touting Wisconsin’s economic status and low unemployment among their achievements.  Democrats, meanwhile, believe the  electorate is ready for change and are working hard to recruit candidates and raise money in as many Wisconsin districts as possible.  There is much time between now and November, and elections tend to tighten up as voting day approaches regardless of who appears to be leading early on, but without a doubt 2018 is shaping up to be another in a series of very interesting recent Election Days.

  • April 17, 2018 9:36 AM | Deleted user

    Save-the-Date! Mark your calendars and plan to attend the WACEP 2019 Spring Symposium & 27th Annual Emergency Medicine Research Forum. The event will take place April 3-4, 2019 at the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee WI. Stay tuned for more details. 

  • April 16, 2018 1:43 PM | Deleted user

    The annual WMS Foundation Fundraising Dinner took place on Friday, April 13 on the eve of the Wisconsin Medical Society's 2018 Annual Meeting, and WACEP was proud to sponsor the event, during which BayCare Emergency Physician Dr. Kerry Ahrens MD, MS was awarded the Kenneth M. Viste, Jr. MD Young Physician Award. This award is presented each year to a young physician who demonstrates commitment to patients, the medical profession and the community. 

    Doctor Ahrens serves as chair of the Wisconsin Stroke Coalition and medical director for the Oshkosh Fire Department, provides director level services for outlying smaller emergency medical services agencies, sits on the board of the Region 6 Regional Trauma and Advisory Counsel and is an associate professor for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health working with residents as a physician on UW MedFlight. She was nominated by her colleagues for her tireless advocacy work and for serving as a trusted source for medical and wellness information for the Green Bay media and her advocacy related to rural health issues, alternatives to opiates, vaccinations, driver safety, and bicycle and motorcycle helmet use.

    The Foundation dinner was emceed by Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), pictured here in the center with WACEP Past President Bobby Redwood, MD, MPH, FACEP, (left), and WACEP President-Elect Jeff Pothof, MD, FACEP (right).

  • April 16, 2018 12:31 PM | Deleted user

    Brad Burmeister, MD, EM Delegate to WMS

    The WACEP delegation braved Blizzard Evelyn to attend the 2018 Wisconsin Medical Society House of Delegates (HOD) April 14-15.

    This year, WACEP, together with the Wisconsin Society of Anesthesiologists, proposed a resolution regarding consensus principles on Insurance Coverage for Out-of-Network Care. This resolution seeks to outlay principles to address the issues of balanced billing and surprise out-of-network bills our patients receive.

    Other issues germane to Emergency medicine that were addressed at the HOD include:

    • Elimination of Prior Authorization for Buprenorphine
    • Opposition to Medicaid Work Requirements, Drug Screening Requirements, and Eligibility Limits
    • Support for National (and State) Registry for Advanced Directives
    • Public Health Case for Firearm Regulation

    If you have any interest in advocacy or policy and would like to attend a future meeting of the Wisconsin Medical Society please contact us! The society values input from Emergency Physicians and there is room for more representatives from our specialty.

    Your membership with WACEP and WMS is valuable as we continue to work on the important issues such as those listed above. If your WMS membership has lapsed but you are willing to reconsider membership, please contact Diane Stampfli, Maximizing Emergency physician membership with the Society is an important aspect of our Emergency Medicine Section’s advocacy efforts. 

  • April 15, 2018 8:43 AM | Deleted user

    EATWELL is a wellness initiative of the Wisconsin Chapter, ACEP, encouraging members to eat well and share their successes! The contest is open to Wisconsin EM physicians, EM residents, medical student members of their EMIG, and APPs.  

    One winner will be randomly selected for a WACEP fleece, and $200 to be applied toward food/catering for you and your colleagues during a shift in the ED or a department meeting.

    Contest Rules:

    • Post your pictures of healthy snacks, meals or healthy eating tips on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #eatwellWACEP. (Make sure your posts are public!). 
    • Follow WACEP on Twitter @WisconsinACEP and Facebook @WiACEP
    • One entry per post. Unlimited entries.  
    • One winner will be randomly selected by drawing on May 15, 2018. 
  • April 13, 2018 9:31 AM | Deleted user

    In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Wisconsin law enforcement agencies will again hold Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28. Police and sheriffs’ departments will host events throughout Wisconsin as part of the event. 

    The goal of Prescription Drug Take Back Day is to provide a safe, convenient and responsible method of disposal for unused or expired prescription drugs. The events also educate the community about potential abuse and consequences of improper storage and disposal of these medications. 

    Drug take back days are held each spring across the country. The October 2017 Drug Take Back events in Wisconsin collected 63,941 pounds of unused medications, the largest fall drug take back collection to date. Wisconsin also had more law enforcement agencies participate than any other state in the country with 266 police and sheriffs’ departments hosting 130 events. Since October 2015, the Drug Take Back Day program has successfully collected and disposed of nearly 360,000 pounds of unused medications in Wisconsin alone. 

    In addition to the semiannual Take Back Day, there are 349 permanent drug disposal drop boxes throughout Wisconsin, providing citizens a convenient, environmentally friendly and anonymous way to dispose of unused medications all year. 

    For more information, including a list of accepted medications, visit the “Dose of Reality” website, which also features an interactive map to find a drug take-back location.

  • April 03, 2018 11:42 AM | Deleted user

    Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, signs proclamation declaring April 23-29, 2018 "Addiction Treatment Awareness Week" throughout the State of Wisconsin. National Addiction Treatment Week, an initiative by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), raises awareness that addiction is a disease, evidence-based treatments are available, and recovery is possible. 

    Nearly 20.5 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD), yet only 1 in 10 people with SUD receive treatment.[1] An estimated 1.8 million Americans have opioid use disorder (OUD) related to prescription opioids [2]; 626,000 have heroin-related OUD [3] with an estimated cost of over $504 billion [4]. Every year in the State of Wisconsin, an average of at least 1,706 people die from an alcohol-related issue. In 2016, an estimated 1,074 people died from a drug overdose in Wisconsin [5], according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

    “Generating awareness that addiction is a disease and more clinicians need to be trained in addiction medicine is critical to saving patients’ lives.” said Matthew Felgus, MD, FASAM, President, Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine. “We are thrilled that Governor Walker has taken this important step to help increase awareness in Wisconsin.” 

    National Addiction Treatment Week promotes that addiction is a disease, recovery is possible, and more clinicians need to enter the field of addiction medicine. 

    Learn more on how to get involved and spread the word about the need for a larger addiction medicine workforce.

    1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: HHS, November 2016. CH 4-2
    2 Council of Economic Advisers. (2017, November). The underestimated cost of the opioid crisis. Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President of the United States.
    3 ibid
    4 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration