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Monday, November 25, 2013

New Tennessee Supreme Court Case on Presuit Notices in a Healthcare Liability Action

The Tennessee Supreme Court just issued its opinion in Stevens ex rel. Stevens v. Hickman Community Health Care Servs., Inc., No. M2012-00582-SC-S09-CV (Tenn. Nov. 25, 2013).  The summary from the opinion states as follows:
More than sixty days before filing suit, the plaintiff gave written notice to the potential defendants of her healthcare liability claim against them. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) (2012) requires that a plaintiff’s pre-suit notice include a HIPAA compliant medical authorization that permits the healthcare provider receiving the notice to obtain complete medical records from every other provider that is being sent a notice. Contrary to the statute, the plaintiff provided a non-HIPAA compliant medical authorization that only permitted the release of medical records to plaintiff’s counsel. After the plaintiff filed suit, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint based on noncompliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E). The trial court denied the motion, ruling that plaintiff’s noncompliance was excused by extraordinary cause. We hold that the plaintiff was required to substantially comply with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) and failed to do so, and that her failure to comply is not excused by extraordinary cause. We dismiss the plaintiff’s case without prejudice.
Here's a link to majority opinion:

http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/stevenschristine_majopn.pdf

Justices Wade and Holder issued a separate partial concurrence and dissent.  That opinion is here:

http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/sites/default/files/stevenschristinedis.pdf

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