The State Legislature significantly effected your rights under Tennessee medical malpractice laws on October 1, 2008 by amending T.C.A 29-26-21. The amendments went into effect for all cases filed on or after that day with the changes including the following:
- Requirement of medical malpractice victims and their lawyers to notify health care providers within 60 days before filing suit.
- Mandating a Certificate of Good Faith from a qualified health care provider, at or near the time a lawsuit is filed, to establish the case has merit.
- Changing in some cases the amount of time victims have to file suit before their claims expire.
- Imposing potentially strong sanctions on attorneys who do not comply with the amendments.
Within the last several years, the Tennessee Supreme Court has acted upon these amendments to the Medical Malpractice Act by ruling to dismiss several cases including Rajvongs v. Wright and Myers v. Amisub (SFH), Inc. (among others) with the most recent of which being Stevens v. Hickman Community Healthcare Services, Inc.
In Stevens v. Hickman, the harmed patient went to the hospital complaining of shortness of breath and fever. The medical practitioner prescribed several medications, took a CT scan, and then sent the patient home. Within days, the patient went into septic shock and was hospitalized where he died several months later. The patient’s family brought a medical malpractice claim serving notice to the medical practitioner as per the new law, and filed the good faith certificate with the Court. However, they attached an incomplete HIPAA authorization. The Court held that the plaintiff’s failure to substantially comply with the requirements was not excused by extraordinary cause and thereby remanded the case back to the trial court for the dismissal determination.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a medical practitioner’s harmful care, due to the changes in Tennessee medical malpractice laws it is critical you seek the services of a competent attorney who is knowledgable of the nuanced requirements of the amended Medical Malpractice Act when bringing a medical malpractice claim in Tennessee. Contact Michael Pence to schedule a consultation if you have been harmed by a medical practitioner.