If you are a Tennessee resident watch out – you might lose your right to privacy. On March 27th, House bill 2979 was put under consideration by the state House Judiciary Committee. If passed, the bill would allow open access to the medical records of a victim of medical malpractice who files a claim in court.
The bill would override federal HIPPA laws and allow an attorney representing a health-care provider to gain access to the lifetime medical history of the victim, including any and all mental-health and past drug or alcohol-abuse treatments, even if the information is not relevant to the medical malpractice case. Moreover, the bill would allow the defending health-care provider’s attorney to interview the victim’s doctor or health-care provide without the presence of the claimant or the claimant’s attorney.
As a law firm that works to defend victims of medical malpractice, this bill is appalling. It violates not only federal law but the victim’s Constitutional right to privacy.
Federal HIPPAA laws were created to protect the privacy of patients. According to Attorney Matt Hardin, a partner with the firm Rudy, Wood, Winstead, Williams and Hardin, “34 other states currently have strong restrictions in place that don’t allow this type of communication.” This bill benefits the defending health-care provider over the victim, essentially punishing the victim for seeking justice.
Luckily,Maryland,Virginia, and DC residents can rest assured that their privacy is still protected under federal HIPPAA laws. They can seek the justice they deserve without fear of having their medical history unnecessarily open for abuse.