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PA Senate Passes Key Bill on Informed Consent

April 28, 2021

The Pennsylvania Senate has approved a proposal outlining when a physician can employ the assistance of other practitioners to obtain a patient’s consent before surgery or the administration of radiation, chemotherapy, and other specified procedures.

Sponsored by Senator John Gordner (R-Columbia), Senate Bill 425 clarifies the process for physicians to receive informed consent from patients. The bill outlines how physicians and qualified practitioners can obtain consent, while ensuring patients are protected and have complete access to information they need to make informed decisions.

The proposal, which was approved 47-0, moves to the House for consideration.

Senate Bill 425 also:

  • Allows physicians to receive information from another qualified practitioner on the care team to obtain a patient’s informed consent. The legislation defines the caregivers who qualify as a qualified practitioner
  • Identifies informed consent requirements in human research conducted pursuant to approval by an institutional review board or similar entity
  • Outlines when a physician or qualified staff person is required to obtain a separate or new informed consent from a patient when informed consent already was obtained

The legislation provides a critical legislative update to address a 2017 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that limits a physician’s ability to delegate the duty to obtain informed consent prior to specified procedures. The 2017 ruling does not reflect how health care is delivered today and ignores the importance of team-based care.

HAP and the Pennsylvania Medical Society helped craft the proposal and will continue to provide updates to members. For more information, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.