Tennessee may be at a crossroads for medical malpractice laws

Americans rely increasingly on the medical profession, as new medications and technologies can often improve and extend life. Hospital facilities and health care systems in the United State are the envy of the world, and health-related industries are one of the most important elements of the economy.

Health care professionals generally provide top-quality care and the results of medical or surgical interventions are often a dream come true after a stressful incident or condition. However, all people make occasional mistakes, so the standards of diagnoses and surgeries must be above reproach.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are one of the protections that patients have against surgical errors, misdiagnoses and poor or injurious health care. Tennessee and other states guarantee the right of patients to sue for personal injury or negligence in the case of medical malpractice.

Patient advocates have been opposing an amendment to the Tennessee state constitution that would set a limit on the possible claims for pain and suffering that patients can request in medical malpractice suits. Caps on noneconomic damages, as payments left to the interpretation of the jury are known, have been maintained by a separate law from 2011.

A rival proposal would create a Patients' Compensation System, the first of its kind in the nation, which would use a panel of experts to investigate doctors' errors and estimate penalties. This system would file claims instead of suits filed with civil courts.

Until one of these laws is passed in Tennessee, patients and their families have the right to sue doctors, hospitals, insurers or health care systems if they have been the victims of medical malpractice. An attorney may help patients determine the best way to claim damages after an instance of medical malpractice.

Source: The Tennessean, "Tennessee should shun medical malpractice ‘solution’," Lawrence B. Schlachter, accessed May 02, 2018

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