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Thursday, April 18, 2019

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Plaintiff's Case Dismissed Due to a Failure to Submit a HIPAA-compliant Authorization (When One Was Not Needed?)

The Tennessee Court of Appeals just issued its decision in Williams v. Gateway Medical Center, No. M2018-00939-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 18, 2019).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads as follows:
In this health care liability action, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for failure to substantially comply with the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26- 121(a)(2)(E) upon determining that the plaintiff’s pre-suit notice failed to include a HIPAA-compliant medical records authorization. The trial court found that the medical records authorizations provided by the plaintiff failed to include a “[d]escription of information to be used or disclosed” and an expiration date. The trial court further determined that these deficiencies prejudiced the defendants from mounting a defense because they were unable to obtain the relevant medical records. As a result, the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed without prejudice. The plaintiff timely appealed. We consider the plaintiff’s omission of an expiration date insignificant. The HIPAA form provided by the plaintiff failed to substantially comply with the statute because it did not include a description of the information to be used or disclosed, thereby causing prejudice to the defendants. We, therefore, affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims. 
Here is a link to the majority opinion: 

Here is Judge Dinkin's partial concurrence and dissent:

Here is Judge Frierson's partial concurrence and dissent:


I respectfully have a problem with this decision.  It misses the fact that no authorization was even required.  See Note at this prior blog post, to wit: