Tennessee: Medical Authorizations - Not Necessary for Single Provider

Under recent Tennessee law, a plaintiff does not need to send a medical authorization with the Notice of Intent if only one medical provider is receiving the Notice of Intent. In the past, courts and counsel understood that even if the Notice was only sent to one provider, such as a nursing home, the plaintiff must still include a medical authorization for the medical records of that provider to allow both the provider and counsel to review the records in anticipation of litigation.  

However, in the recent opinion of Bray v. Khuri, 2017 WL 2856697 (Tenn. July 5, 2017), the Tennessee Supreme Court held, in a published opinion, that HIPAA permits the disclosure of protected health information for “health care operations,” which includes “legal services.” Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that a plaintiff serving Notice does not need to attach an authorization if only one health care provider is being provided notice.

This ruling represents a clear change in the law and has already impacted cases currently being decided. On July 25, 2017, the Tennessee Court of Appeals applied the Bray opinion and held that the trial court erred in dismissing a case on the grounds that a medical authorization was not attached to the pre-suit notice because only one health care provider was involved in the case. 

Rebecca Adelman