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Free Quotes on Tennessee Malpractice Insurance for doctors Medical malpractice insurance rates have remained stable in Tennessee in recent years. With over 20 different liability companies serving Tennessee it's important for you to shop around to get the best coverage at the most affordable price.

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June 2011
On June 16th 2011, Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam signed into law the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011 which among other things sets a cap on non-economic damages on claims that may arise from civil cases including medical malpractice. The bill (HB 2008/SB 1522) passed both houses of the Tennessee General assembly with bipartisan support. The premise behind the legislation was to encourage a more business friendly environment for companies setting up operations in the Volunteer State. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the Tennessee Osteopathic Medical Association (TOMA) were among many medical groups in the state who voiced support for passage of the legislation.

The cap is $750,000 on non-economic damages, except in instances of intentional misconduct, records destruction, or conduct under influence of drugs or alcohol. However the cap is raised to $1 million on non-economic damages for catastrophic losses resulting in paraplegia, quadriplegia, amputation, substantial burns or the wrongful death of a parent leaving minor children.

This change in the Tennessee tort system should hopefully help prevent frivolous or meaningless lawsuits that can distract Tennessee physicians from caring for their patients and drive up malpractice rates across the board.

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Medical Malpractice Insurance in Tennessee

The battle for meaningful malpractice tort reform in Tennessee really began in the late 1990s—when the Tennessee Medical Association (TMA) could no longer ignore the state’s shrinking number of physicians practicing high-risk specialties. By 2001, the TMA made a commitment to reform its state medical liability laws for the first time in 30 years.

In response to double-digit increases in medical malpractice premiums, the TMA reported physicians were cutting back on their practice, leaving the state or retiring early. According to a TMA survey, 100 percent of cardiac surgeons, 92 percent of OB/Gyns, 92 percent of orthopedists and 70 percent of all Tennessee doctors had faced legal actions in the previous decade. The same survey showed that 42 of the state’s counties had no residing OB/Gyn in patient care; 47 counties had no residing emergency physician, 49 counties had no residing orthopedic surgeon and 81 counties had no residing neurosurgeon. Both conservative legislators and physicians pointed to these surprising statistics as undeniable evidence of a growing medical liability crisis affecting Tennesseans’ access to healthcare.

Despite the TMA’s public awareness and state lobbying efforts, little progress was made. By 2005, the State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company (SVMIC)—Tenessee’s largest writer of medical liability insurance—had increased premiums by 130 percent for OB/Gyns, 131 percent for neurosurgeons, 212 percent for emergency medicine and 127 percent for internists over the course of the previous decade. In 2006, Tennessee was the 21st state added to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) list of “Medical Liability Crisis States.”

Pointing to the dubious distinction bestowed upon the state by the AMA, the TMA made its most aggressive push for tort reform legislation that would cap non-economic damages at $250,000, place a sliding scale on attorney fees and create tougher requirements of top-rated witnesses. The bill was defeated in the five-member Civil Practice subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of three to two.

Two years later, the TMA had its first real legislative victory on its continuing road toward meaningful tort reform. The long-debated amendment to organized medicine’s medical liability reform legislation passed the Tennessee Senate unanimously and the House of Representative by a vote of 93 to one. It was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bredesen and became effective on Oct. 1, 2008.

The bill contains several provisions that are victories for the TMA. First is a requirement that providers be given a 60-day written notice that they may potentially have a complaint filed against them. The purpose is to eliminate attorneys suing providers who shouldn’t be parties to the claim. It also requires all parties in an action obtain complete copies of the patient’s medical records within 30 days of a written request so that doctors who shouldn’t be plaintiffs can be identified at this point in the process and eliminated from the lawsuit.

The most significant portion of the legislation is its Certificate of Good Faith requirement. Within 90 days after the complaint, plaintiffs must consult with one or more top-rated witnesses and receive a written statement saying that the top-rated witness believes in good faith that the action has merit. This is designed to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims that end in no payment to the plaintiff by eliminating all frivolous claims.

While the bill didn’t include caps on punitive damages, the TMA said they expect this bill will create better options for real cases and weed out frivolous actions. The TMA also anticipates that the results this bill will bring will affect a reduction in liability insurance rates statewide in the near future.

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