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Governor signs Petrowski's Pulse Oximetry bill into law


MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WSAU) -- The Governor signed into law legislation allowing the Department of Health Services to require additional tests for newborn babies. It’s called the Pulse Oximetry law, which now allows medical professionals to conduct non-invasive tests in addition to blood and urine tests to help detect dangerous risks for baby’s health.

One of those tests is the Pulse Oximetry test, which can detect oxygen levels and blood flow, and tell doctors if a dangerous heart condition is present.

The bill’s author, Senator Jerry Petrowski of Marathon, says many people and organizations that worked for years to get this new law were on hand as Governor Scott Walker signed it in Milwaukee Monday.  “Well, there was actually a lot of people from a variety of places, from the University Hospital, from the Children’s Hospital, from the (American) Heart Association, and I think some people were there from the March of Dimes, some of the legislators, and interested parents that have been working to get to this day where the Governor signs the pulse oximetry bill.”

The new law is written so future technological advances in testing with sensors will not require legislative action. Petrowski says this gives the Department of Health Services the flexibility to choose which tests are mandatory.  “The ability to do this and require this test is at a board over at Health and Family Services, and they will make a determination of which tests are mandated for newborns.”

Petrowski believes the pulse oximetry test will quickly become mandatory. He says it’s a very low cost test which gives doctors information they can’t otherwise see.  “And, this test happens to only cost less than four dollars per test, and it will save lives of children across our state.”

Medical professionals and groups like the American Heart Association and the March of Dimes pushed for this bill, knowing early detection of heart-related problems is the key to saving lives. “Right now, if a child has a heart defect, and you can detect it at, you know, right away when they’re young, we have the technology and the ability to correct a lot of these problems that young children have, and the key is really finding out about it before something bad happens.”