On April 11, the Michigan House of Representatives introduced a multi-bill package aimed at addressing the layers of failures that ultimately led to the rampant sexual abuse committed by Michigan State University sports medicine physician, Larry Nassar, DO.
The package includes several pieces of legislation of particular consequence to physicians. One would require parent/guardian informed consent when anal or vaginal penetration is performed on a minor, and that another licensed health professional or a medical assistant be in the room. Notable exceptions to the requirement include any treatment related to “the patient’s reproductive, gynecological, or sexual health” or if “the medical treatment, procedure, or examination is performed for purposes of a sexual assault medical forensic examination,” which was sought by groups concerned about potential ramifications for patient confidentiality around sexual health.
Another bill would require that medical records related to these treatments be retained for 15 years, with exceptions for circumstances in which the medical treatment, procedure, or examination primarily relates to the patient’s reproductive, gynecological, or sexual health.
It is important to note that separately, the Michigan Senate recently passed a bill that extends the statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault to 30 years past the victim’s 18th birthday. If passed into law, this would have implications for maintaining medical records.
While acknowledging the seriousness of the issue and the need for an appropriate response, the bills have raised some concerns among MAFP leaders, including the harsh penalties imposed for violations. MAFP continues to provide input as the House has committed to a deliberative process, including multiple hearings on the bills, in the upcoming weeks.