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Tennessee Doctors Seek to Amend Constitution to Protect Caps

Doctors in Tennessee are pressuring state legislators to protect a 2011 law that caps the awards that juries can make in medical malpractice lawsuits. Fearful that the caps will be struck off the books, doctors want lawmakers to amend the state’s constitution.

The Tennessee Medical Association wants legislators to put the matter before voters in order to alter the constitution so that the General Assembly would have the authority to set caps on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering in cases which involved medical malpractice liability.

The group hopes to persuade the GOP-dominated 109th General Assembly to approve the proposed amendment in 2016 and then also influence the succeeding 110th Assembly to approve the measure by a two-thirds majority.

If the TMA is successful in influencing current lawmakers, it would then be put before voters on the 2018 ballot for a final decision.

Dr. John Hale, President of the Tennessee Medical Association asserts that the current cap would prevent the state from going backward on the issue and helps to cut back on the number of frivolous lawsuits made by those bringing allegations of medical malpractice.

But the approach isn’t in agreement by other organizations that want to cut medical costs. The nonprofit advocacy group, Patients for Fair Compensation, is asking that lawmakers to remove malpractice lawsuits out of the courts entirely and put them under a Patients’ Compensation System, which is the first of its kind.

The organization said that their proposal would work in a similar fashion to the current workers’ compensation system that is in place to assist workers who are injured on the job. The proposed system would create an independent panel, appointed by Republican Governor Bill Haslam as well as the Republican House and Senate speakers. The panel would retain physicians to serve on panels. They would affix specific costs on physician errors in treating patients.

The proposal is being hailed as being both bold and innovative that could change the dynamic of healthcare. The proposal, however, has its fair share of critics who do not believe that pain and suffering should be capped especially when the care of patients injured in cases of medical malpractice can be catastrophic.

When a doctor, medical resident, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, therapist, or other medical caregiver is accused of negligence or malpractice that is a serious matter. Patients come to expect a standard of care to be provided by health care providers. When that standard is not adhered to, serious consequences can arise that can cost patients their health and even their lives. That is when you may need the services of a medical malpractice attorney.

At Bottar Leone, we have been fighting for the rights of patients and their loved ones in for nearly 30 years. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact Bottar Leone, PLLC, today. We will schedule a confidential meeting with you to inform you of your rights.

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