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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Last Updated: 03/05/10

Appendix A

Summary of State Laws

This summary of state laws does not include full citations for statutes that prohibit discrimination in employment or insurance on the basis of genetic testing or genetic information. There are other comprehensive collections of state laws addressing genetic nondiscrimination in employment and insurance. Therefore, there are complete references only where the statute is relevant for the conduct of research using tissue specimens.


Confidentiality of Health Information

Patient health records must be kept confidential. Health care records may not be disclosed without the informed consent of the patient, except under certain specified circumstances. [West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated Section 146.82]

Personal medical information may not be disclosed by insurers. [West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated Section 610.70]

Conditions Imposed on Genetic Testing/Use of Genetic information

Restricts the use of genetic information in the employment and insurance.

Permitted Releases of Health Information or Genetic Information for Research

The law permits releases of information without informed consent, if the researcher is affiliated with the health care provider and provides written assurances to the custodian of the patient health care records that the information will be used only for the purposes for which it is provided to the researcher, the information will not be released to a person not connected with the study, and the final product of the research will not reveal information that may serve to identify the patient whose records are being released under this paragraph without the informed consent of the patient. [West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated Section 146.82]

Definition of Genetic Test/Genetic Information

Authors’ note: Wisconsin law has different definitions of genetic test depending on whether the conduct of such tests is addressed in the context of insurance or employment.

“Genetic test” means a test using deoxyribonucleic acid extracted from an individual’s cells in order to determine the presence of a genetic disease or disorder or the individual’s predisposition for a particular genetic disease or disorder. [West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated Section 631.89(1)]

“Genetic test” means a test of a person’s genes, gene products or chromosomes for abnormalities or deficiencies, including carrier status, that are linked to physical or mental disorders or impairments, or that indicate a susceptibility to illness, disease, impairment or other disorders, whether physical or mental, or that demonstrate genetic or chromosomal damage due to environmental factors. [West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated Section 942.07]