HB2979 / SB2789 Weakens Federal Patient Privacy Laws
Nashville— Proposed legislation allows access to all medical records for victims of medical negligence. Sponsored by Rep. Vance Dennis of Savannah and Senator Brian Kelsey of Collierville, HB2979 / SB2789 forces anyone harmed as a result of a medical error to allow the physician’s attorney to have access to their entire medical history.
Under current law, a physician’s attorney already has access to all medical records pertaining to medical negligence issues. However, this proposed legislation would force victims of medical negligence to sign a waiver in order to file a complaint allowing the negligent doctor’s attorney to look at their lifetime medical history – even if the medical records have nothing to do with the issue at hand.
“Basically, if a person was treated at any point in their life for mental health and substance abuse issues as well as domestic abuse, these medical records would be available to the doctor’s attorneys and could be brought up in court,” stated Keith Williams, President, Tennessee Association for Justice. “My job, first and foremost, is to protect the rights of my clients. This law violates my clients’ rights and the rights of all Tennesseans.”
The legislation also allows the other side to have secret, private meetings with the innocent patient’s past treating doctors and counselors. The attorney representing the patient should always be allowed at these meetings to ensure no privileged information is requested or released that would violate patient confidentiality.
“Corporate hospitals and nursing homes have no business accessing medical histories that do not relate to a specific case. If you file a suit against them today, they want to be able to go back 25 years and read all about that bout of severe depression you had in college,” said Mary Mancini, Executive Director, Tennessee Citizen Action. “This bill is an outrageous invasion of privacy and there’s only one use for the information once they get it – to intimidate victims of medical negligence and abuse.”
HIPAA guarantees patient’s privacy and this bill would undermine this important federal law.
The legislation will be brought up in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 6, 2012 at 12 noon in LP-31.
The Tennessee Association for Justice advocates for accountability and the constitutional rights of all citizens and works to protect civil justice in Tennessee.