This is a healthcare liability action. In her medical authorizations, the plaintiff left blank lines as to who was authorized to receive the patient’s records from the medical providers and others receiving notice. The defendants claimed that the authorizations were not HIPAA-compliant, as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26- 121(a)(2)(E). The plaintiff responded that by construing the pre-suit notice packet materials as one cohesive document, all of the elements required by the statute are present and that the defendants had at their disposal all of the information necessary to obtain the patient’s medical records. The plaintiff further asserted that the failure of the defendants to attempt to obtain the records precludes any demonstration of prejudice to them. The trial court determined that the plaintiff’s statutory notice failed to substantially comply with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.
The specific purpose of subsection (a)(2)(E) is not to provide a defendant with notice of a potential claim; rather, . . . the subsection “serves to equip defendants with the actual means to evaluate the substantive merits of a plaintiff’s claim by enabling early access to a plaintiff’s medical records.” This investigatory tool advances the overall goal of section 29-26-121(a), which is to allow litigants the ability to engage in pre-suit negotiation and settlement so as to reduce litigation costs and resolve meritorious claims at the outset. . . .
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[H]owever, “[b]ecause HIPAA itself prohibits medical providers from using or disclosing a plaintiff’s medical records without a fully compliant authorization form, it is a threshold requirement of the statute that the plaintiff’s medical authorization must be sufficient to enable defendants to obtain and review a plaintiff’s relevant medical records.” . . .