Senate passes legislation to clarify Medical Malpractice Reform law

On June 4, 2009, in News 2009, by Mark Norris

NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release                                                                            Contact: Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 Statistics show legislation has been very successful in reducing lawsuits (NASHVILLE, TN), June 4, 2009 – Tennessee’s new Medical Malpractice Reform law has been very successful in reducing lawsuits, according to the latest statistics showing the number of actions filed since implementation of the law […]

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release                                                                            Contact: Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336

Statistics show legislation has been very successful in reducing lawsuits

(NASHVILLE, TN), June 4, 2009 – Tennessee’s new Medical Malpractice Reform law has been very successful in reducing lawsuits, according to the latest statistics showing the number of actions filed since implementation of the law in 2008. The law aimed at weeding out meritless medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Tennessee was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and then-Representative Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) who was later elected to the State Senate.

“We are very pleased to see this bill is working as we had envisioned,” said Senator Overbey. “Annual Reports on Medical Malpractice showed that more than 80% of the lawsuits filed in Tennessee lack sufficient merit to proceed. The new statistics show there is a drastic change in that number.”

Norris said comparison of the last quarter of 2008 with the same period in 2007 shows medical malpractice lawsuits have dropped from 143 to only 28. The first quarter of 2009 compared to the previous year shows similar results with 130 cases in 2008 as compared to 56 cases in 2009.

“Tennessee had been declared a medical liability “Crisis State” by the American Medical Association,” added Overbey. “I believe this new law will be a factor to give Tennesseans hope for affordable health care and restore confidence in providers that they can invest in their patients’ care rather than lawsuits.”

The bill, SB 2109, approved by the Senate this week clarifies how the 60-day notice is given under the 2008 law. This is the pre-filing notification prior to filing a complaint to each medical provider who may be named in a medical malpractice action. It also provides that the statutes of limitation and repose be extended from 90 to 120 days. This means a complaint must be filed by the plaintiff’s attorneys within 120 days 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.

Finally, the bill clarifies that the Certificate of Good Faith must be filed at the filing of the complaint rather than within 90 days of the filing. 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 is the most significant reform to the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act in more than a generation,” said Senator Norris. “I am pleased that we have passed this legislation to make it clearer for plaintiffs bringing suits and for the health care providers in defending those claims. I am also very pleased that our reform legislation is showing excellent results in doing what we sought to do when we enacted this reform measure.”

First elected to the Senate in 2000, Senator Norris represents the West Tennessee counties of Dyer, Lauderdale, Tipton, and Shelby.

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