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Court upholds order to release doctor's exam scores

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Court upholds order to release doctor's exam scores04/22/96 WISCONSIN--The licensing examination scores on tests administered to physician Severino Gomilla, licensed…

Court upholds order to release doctor’s exam scores

04/22/96

WISCONSIN–The licensing examination scores on tests administered to physician Severino Gomilla, licensed to practice in Wisconsin, must be released by the Division of Health Professions and Services Licensing, a Wisconsin appellate court in Madison ruled in late March, affirming the decision of the Dane County Circuit Court in Madison.

The court rejected the arguments of the agency that disclosing test scores could have an “adverse effect” on Gomilla. The agency said that the test scores only establish minimum competence to practice medicine and that disclosure would present a substantial likelihood that the scores might be used as a basis for selecting a physician.

The court ruled that the state’s strong commitment to disclosure embodied in its open records law was not outweighed by any public interest in preventing “mistaken judgments about physicians as a result of having access to their scores on examinations.” The court said the agency could simply attach a message to the scores that the exam did not measure “relative skills” of tested physicians.

James Munroe, then an inmate in the Racine Correctional Institution, in January 1995 filed the open records request for the test scores of Gomilla, who had treated him in prison. When the agency denied Munroe’s request he sued.

The trial judge in her decision in March 1995 called the agency’s refusal “quite paternalistic and somewhat patronizing.” Denying records because disclosure might cause the public to rely too heavily on the test scores in assessing a physician is not a decision an administrator can make, she wrote.

Wisconsin’s attorney general has asked the state’s high court to review the decision. (Munroe v. Braatz; James Munroe, pro se)