Physician Lobby Claims Win for Tennessee Medical Liability System
TMA Keeps Current System in Tact by Defeating Push for Unnecessary Reforms

November 2, 2017

The Tennessee Medical Association, the state’s largest professional association for physicians, has announced that a three-year push by an out-of-state group to dismantle Tennessee’s medical liability system has ended.

A Georgia-based group called Patients for Fair Compensation has since 2015 lobbied the Tennessee General Assembly to shift physician liability cases from the civil court system to a government-run administrative system. The proposal drew strong opposition from TMA, which worked with medical malpractice insurance carrier State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company and others in the medical community to convince lawmakers that Tennessee’s current system is working well and needs no reform.

“The Patients for Fair Compensation proposal would have adversely affected our healthcare system without any guaranteed benefits,” said Nita W. Shumaker, MD, a Chattanooga pediatrician and 2017-2018 TMA President. “We are relieved that this unproven concept will not be tested in Tennessee and applaud our legislature for its common sense response to the debate. Tennessee should not be a trial balloon state for any exploratory program that directly affects our doctors and patients.”

In the debate on Capitol Hill, doctors raised fundamental concerns about verifying proponents’ claims that their plan would save the state money, and preserving medical liability insurance in the event a patient compensation system did not work. The opposing groups could not resolve fundamental issues, and Patients for Fair Compensation has assured TMA that it does not plan to introduce any related bills in the 2018 legislative session.

TMA and SVMIC were instrumental in tort reforms enacted in 2008 and 2011 that have resulted in a 40% drop in volume of health care liability cases filed against physicians and a 37% drop in claims as a result of cases against physicians.

Current laws provide a fair, transparent way to significantly reduce frivolous lawsuits while keeping doctors accountable for legitimate acts of negligence. The civil legal system, along with hospital quality improvement committees, health plan utilization and medical necessity reviews, state/federal healthcare pilot initiatives, and the state licensing boards, keep Tennessee physicians accountable for legitimate healthcare injuries and quality of care.

A favorable medical liability climate is one of the many reasons why Tennessee has been named as one of the best places to practice medicine. Preserving tort reforms is critical to attracting and retaining the best physicians who help provide access to safe, quality healthcare in the state.

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