2006 Changes in Medical Malpractice Reporting Law

From a recent press release issued by the Tennessee Dept. of Commerce and Insurance:

"Public Chapter 744, effective May 23, 2006, contains several important changes to the Medical Malpractice Reporting Law of Tennessee, (Public Chapter 902, adopted in 2004, and codified at Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-54-101). For the first time, it requires “reporting entities” (insurance companies, uninsured health care facilities and professionals) to include the damages and defense expenses incurred from the inception date of the medical malpractice claim until the end of the reporting year in its annual report to the Department of Commerce & Insurance (the “Department”). This change will enable the Department to accurately report on all of the costs to date incurred by reporting entities in its annual report to the General Assembly, rather than just those costs incurred during the reporting calendar year. The law requires reporting entities to re-file 2005 reports by July 1, 2006 to reflect these inception-to-date damages and costs, and also extends the deadline for the Department to report to the General Assembly from September 1 to November 1 of each year.

The legislation places requirements on counsel for claimants to submit their information on medical malpractice fee arrangements directly to the Department by April 1 of each year, beginning in 2007. Counsel for claimants are also included in the definition of “reporting entities” over which the Department has civil penalty authority to levy a fine of $100 a day for failure to report. The law now requires claimant’s counsel to report the portion of settlement or judgment received in the reporting calendar year. Similarly, all reporting entities must now list the name of each attorney representing claimants in its annual report in order to provide the Department with additional enforcement information. All settlement and judgment information submitted to the Department will continue to be held confidential, and reported only in aggregate form.

Lastly, the legislation changes the requirements on reporting entities to submit social security numbers. It was found that in many instances, this information is not maintained by the reporting entities, and therefore the law now only requires this information to be reported to the extent it is available to the reporting entity.

For any additional questions concerning the medical malpractice reporting law, please contact Andrea Hardy or Kathy Fussell with the Department of Commerce & Insurance at (615) 741-1692. "

I would encourage all attorneys to keep this data on a on-going basis during the year and have it ready to submit effective January 1, 2007.   A form will undoubtedly be developed to use to submit this information but, in the meantime, put a copy of the settlement sheet in an appropriately marked file.