The Tennessee legislature enacted a statute that transforms a lawsuit alleging that a “health care provider or providers have caused an injury related to the provision of, or failure to provide, health care services to a person, regardless of the theory of liability on which the action is based” is to be considered a healthcare liability action only. No longer can these cases be referred to as medical malpractice cases under Tennessee law. The statute directs us to call these a “healthcare liability action,” no matter what is the actual theory of the case.
Forcing all causes of action that occur in a healthcare setting into “healthcare liability actions” matters quite a bit because it can transform the conduct of businessmen into “healthcare professionals.” Thus, the standard of proof for a Plaintiff to prove that a “healthcare professional” acted with neglect requires expert proof. Thus, a businessman making a decision to maximize profits by understaffing a nursing home must be called a “healthcare professional” because of this Tennessee law.
An example of how Tennessee law would work can be found in a New Mexico lawsuit where allegations of systemic understaffing in nursing homes by Preferred Care Partners Management Group have been alleged. Understaffing is a serious problem in nursing home and long term care settings because any individual caregiver can only care for a certain amount of people before their work product declines and starts to suffer. Thus, it is extremely important that nursing homes employ an adequate number of caregivers so a certain minimum amount of care is received by each patient.