May 19, 2008
Medical Malpractice Reform Law signed says Sen.
(NASHVILLE, TN, May 19, 2008) – Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) said today that the governor has signed major tort reform legislation aimed at weeding out meritless medical malpractice lawsuits. Tracy is a co-sponsor with Republican Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) on the bill, which was signed by the governor on Friday.
Tracy said the Department of Commerce and Insurance Annual Reports on Medical Malpractice have shown that more than 80% of the lawsuits filed in Tennessee lack sufficient merit to proceed. He said the General Assembly has been working on the bill since 2001. The medical malpractice liability act was last amended in 1975.
“This is the most significant reform to the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act in more than a generation,” said Sen. Tracy. “I believe it will be a factor to give Tennesseans hope for affordable health care and restores confidence in providers that they can invest in their patients’ care rather than lawsuits.”
Medical malpractice costs have been a factor in pushing up the cost of health care nationwide. Last year the legislation passed the Senate but hit roadblocks in the House of Representatives regarding which medical experts can testify in malpractice trials, called the “locality rule.” The bill, SB 2001, was deferred until this year after an agreement could not be reached before the close of the 2007 legislative session. That provision has now been removed from the bill.
Key provisions in the bill include:
Notice would be provided at least two months before a lawsuit is filed to help resolve the case before it goes to court.
It sets up a process requiring pre-filing notification to each medical provider who may be named in a medical malpractice action at least 60 days prior to filing a complaint.
It contains a notification requirement to require attorneys to have an independent medical expert evaluate the merits of a case before filing suit.
The bill establishes that all parties are entitled to the plaintiff’s medical records within 30 days of a request for the records.
It requires that within 90 days after a complaint is filed the plaintiff’s attorneys would have to attest that they have consulted with a medical expert who is competent to testify in a Tennessee court and has reviewed the medical records or any other pertinent information.
Medical experts must declare that there is a good faith basis to maintain the malpractice action, and the defendant is responsible for following a similar procedure when alleging that a non-party is responsible.
This bill would apply to all actions filed on or after October 1, 2008.