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Saturday, May 02, 2020

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Trial Court's Dismissal Reversed on Appeal; HIPAA Authorization Was Sufficient to Allow Defendants to Obtain Patient's Medical Records Presuit

The Tennessee Court of Appeals just issued its decision in Combs v. Milligan, No. E2019-00485-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 1, 2020).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:
This appeal concerns healthcare liability. A husband and wife filed an action against six medical care providers alleging negligence in the medical treatment of the wife. The defendants moved to dismiss the suit on the basis of noncompliance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(a)(2)(E), which requires that pre-suit notice include a HIPAA[] compliant medical authorization allowing a healthcare provider receiving a notice to obtain complete medical records from every other provider that is sent a notice. The plaintiffs’ authorization allowed each provider to disclose complete medical records to each named provider but did not state specifically that each provider could obtain records from each other. The trial court held that the authorization failed to substantially comply with the statute’s requirements. The plaintiffs appealed. We hold that Plaintiffs’ method of permitting Defendants access to Mrs. Combs’s medical records substantially complied with Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(a)(2)E). We reverse the judgment of the trial court.
(Footnote omitted.)

Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This opinion offers a good discussion of procedure and how that affects appellate jurisdiction when it comes to interlocutory and final orders.  And, importantly, it addresses the sufficiency of HIPAA authorizations in health care liability actions (f/k/a medical malpractice cases). 

This decision must be read in conjunction with Martin v. Rolling Hills Hosp., LLC, No. M2016-02214-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Apr. 29, 2020), which can be found at my blog post here:


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