During Tuesday’s Public Hearing for the Assembly Committee on Health, emergency physician and vice-chair of the Medical Examining Board Tim Westlake, MD, testified against Assembly Bill 526 on behalf of the Wisconsin Medical Society.
This bill is one of nine bills produced by the Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention. The first draft of the bill would require two credits of CME every two years on the topic of suicide prevention for all physicians, psychologists, social workers and several other professions. The Wisconsin Medical Society raised concerns to the Speaker’s office, the chair of the Speaker’s Task Force and the bill author, and an amendment was offered by Rep. Tony Kurtz (R – Wonewoc) that would only require the two hours once upon the next renewal.
The Wisconsin Medical Society opposes the legislation (even with the amendment) for the following reasons:
- Suicide prevention and mental health treatment are already part of best practices for physicians.
- Physicians are the best judges of what education they need to serve their patients, and the CME requirement is another example of government interference and regulation in medicine.
- The recent Opioid CME requirement was successfully created through the action of the Medical Examining Board, not through legislation.
- Physicians already take significantly more education than is required under state law to maintain Board certification.
Doctor Westlake stressed that all physicians care deeply about preventing suicide, mentioning that he treated four suicidal patients in the ER the night before. He then pointed out that a requirement of CME is unlikely to impact patient care. “A responsible physician will make sure they are up to date on all aspects of their practice,” Westlake said, “but requiring CME won’t change behavior. You can’t legislate responsibility.”