Tag Archives: immunity

Lawyers Group: Bill Would Give Emergency Room Doctors ‘Unfair’ Immunity

News release from Tennessee Association for Justice
Nashville ― A bill introduced in the Tennessee legislature specifically allows hospitals and doctors to provide negligent medical care in Tennessee emergency rooms. Unless a patient could prove gross negligence, a standard just short of criminal behavior, there would be no accountability or protection. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson, both from College Grove.
“For example, if you go to the ER with chest pains and the doctor carelessly misdiagnoses you with bronchitis and you go home and have a massive heart attack and die, under the proposed legislation there is no recourse for this kind of sloppiness,” stated Keith Williams, President, Tennessee Association for Justice. “In effect, a doctor would have no responsibility for careless errors that could ultimately cost you your life.”
The current standard for medical negligence already affords protections to ER doctors. ER doctors are protected as long as they deliver care consistent with standards set by their peers–other ER doctors. Only if they fail to meet those standards and harm a patient will they rightfully be held accountable under the present law.
The immunity goes one step further and covers doctors in surgery and the OB unit if the patient is admitted through the ER. This means a patient who goes to the ER will have very little, if any protection from negligence during their entire hospital stay.
This legislation has an unfair impact on pregnant women, children and low-income families since they are more likely to use the ER. Kids in sports go to the ER for injuries, pregnant women often go to the ER whey they are in labor, and the elderly frequently rely on the ER for respiratory illnesses. These vulnerable citizens would be without any protection when seeking needed medical care.
HB 174/SB 360 also places a financial burden on the taxpayers. If recipients of TennCare, Medicare and the uninsured are harmed due to carelessness in the ER, Tennesseans will end up paying the bill for a person’s medical care and treatment resulting from the doctor’s careless error. Medical errors cost the Nation approximately $37.6 billion per year, and this legislation would only add to that cost.
“Should a law be passed allowing ER doctors to commit negligent acts on patients in Tennessee? That’s exactly what this bill does.” said Williams. “With 98,000 people dying each year from medical errors, clearly the answer is NO. The focus should be on improving the quality of care – not on lobbyists seeking to pass a license to harm patients.”

Legislators Seek Immunity from Subpoenas

A potentially ground-breaking gay rights lawsuit could turn on what transpired during a private meeting of Christian conservative businessmen and politicians on a snowy day in January at the LifeWay offices of the Southern Baptist Convention, reports The City Paper.
That 90-minute meeting — a political strategy session — led directly to the state law that overturned Nashville’s anti-gay bias ordinance, and a who’s who of the state’s Christian Right — including lawmakers and Nashville businessman Lee Beaman — are trying to quash subpoenas aimed at forcing them to surrender any documents that might exist about their plans.
A hearing is scheduled this week before Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy — the first skirmish in the lawsuit brought by Metro Council members and others alleging the state law illegally discriminates against gay, lesbian and transgender people.
In an expansive view of legislative privilege contained in the state constitution, Reps. Jim Gotto, R-Nashville, and Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, are claiming a near-blanket immunity from subpoenas.
That privilege in the past has been interpreted only to shield legislators from liability in lawsuits for statements made during debates on the House or Senate floor. But Gotto, Casada and Beavers argue they enjoy immunity for their actions outside the legislature as well, even those that are strictly political in nature.
Also resisting subpoenas are Beaman and officials of Tennessee Family Action Council, an evangelical organization that lobbied heavily for the state law. They contend, variously, that the subpoenas are “far-reaching and unbridled” and make “unreasonable and unduly oppressive” demands for internal documents detailing the council’s political strategies.
By attempting to produce documents to prove the true purpose of the law was to discriminate, the subpoenas are important to the plaintiffs’ case.
During the legislative debate, the law’s advocates denied any anti-gay bias. Instead, they cast their law as an attempt to prevent confusing and burdensome new regulations from popping up all over the state. Nashville’s ordinance barred discrimination against gays by any company doing business with the city government. The state law overturned that ordinance and prohibited any city from adopting such laws in the future anywhere in Tennessee. To underline what they claim as their intent, lawmakers titled the law the “Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act.”
…So to win their lawsuit, Tennessee’s plaintiffs must show legislators were deliberately aiming to deny the rights of gay people while claiming they were not — an alleged subterfuge the subpoenas aim to unmask.

Bill Gives Hospitals Catheter Immunity

The House approved 93-4 and sent to the Senate Monday legislation that will grant immunity to hospitals from lawsuits involving injection of “harmful substances” through a catheter.
The bill, HB1172, is intended to free up bed space in facilities treating persons for drug abuse, according to s ponsor Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville.
Drug abuse patients typically receive “massive doses of antibiotics” for infections through a catheter, Ramsey said. Because of fear they – or an associate – will misuse the catheter for drug injections after discharge, such patients are typically held six to 10 days longer than necessary to avoid liability risks, he said. Passage of the bill means hospitals, including the University of Tennessee Medical Center, can discharge patients earlier and allow more patients to receive service.
ohn Sheridan, a victe president of UT Medical Center, told a committee hearing that the facility typically turns away two potential drug addiction patients per day for lack of bed space. The immunity will begin when the patient is discharged from the hospital with a catheter to take home, Ramsey said.