CARL SHORT EX REL. ALLISON HOPE SHORT
METRO KNOXVILLE HMA, LLC, ET AL.
Session: July 19, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Knox County No. 2-346-17 William
T. Ailor, Judge
appeal concerns healthcare liability. Carl Short
("Plaintiff"), widower of Allison Short
("Decedent"), filed suit in the Circuit Court for
Knox County ("the Trial Court") alleging negligence
in his late wife's medical treatment against a number of
physicians ("Physician Defendants") and Turkey
Creek Medical Center ("the Hospital")
("Defendants," collectively). Defendants moved to
dismiss on the basis of noncompliance with Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 29-26-121(a)(2)(E), which requires that pre-suit
notice include a HIPAA compliant medical authorization
allowing the healthcare provider receiving the notice to
obtain complete medical records from every other provider
that is sent a notice. Plaintiff's authorizations allowed
each provider to disclose complete medical records to each
named provider although it did not state specifically that
each provider could request records from the other. The Trial
Court held that Plaintiff's authorizations failed to
substantially comply with the statute's requirements
because of this failure to explicitly allow each provider to
obtain records. Plaintiff appeals. We hold that
Plaintiff's method of permitting Defendants access to
Decedent's medical records substantially complied with
Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E). We reverse the
judgment of the Trial Court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Reversed; Case Remanded
E. Patterson, Louis W. Ringger, III, and Grant E. Mitchell,
Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carl Short,
individually and as next of kin of Allison Hope Short,
E. Looper, Jr., Carson W. King, and Nathaniel T. Gorman,
Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Sparrow Emergency
Physicians, PLLC, Douglas E. Holland, M.D., and Michael D.
Gideon, Jr., J. Blake Carter, and Jordan K. Gibson,
Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metro Knoxville HMA,
LLC d/b/a Turkey Creek Medical Center.
Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which John W. McClarty, J., joined.
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE.
age 29, died in May 2016 while pregnant with her first child.
Decedent had developed a pneumonic condition and infection
over the course of three visits to the emergency room at the
Hospital. Plaintiff filed suit in September 2017, after
pre-suit notice was given, against Defendants for negligence
in the death of Decedent and their unborn child. Plaintiff
sent each Defendant a packet containing a letter, a list of
relevant providers, and an authorization to disclose
Decedent's entire medical record to each listed provider.
An example of one of Plaintiff's notice letters reads as
Please be advised that Carl Short, surviving spouse of
Allison Short, is giving you notice pursuant to T.C.A.
29-26-121 that a medical malpractice claim will be filed
against you within the time period required by law. The claim
will be filed by Carl Short, as surviving spouse of Allison
Short. . . .
This firm will be representing Mr. Short. Our address and
contact information appears in this letter. If you wish to
correspond or talk with this firm about this matter, please
direct your inquiry to the undersigned.
Attached please find a list of providers to whom a
substantially similar notice is being sent pursuant to T.C.A.
29-26-121(a). These providers are: Michael D. Phillips, M.D.,
Leila K. Davis, M.D., Isham C. Hewgley, III, M.D., Turkey
Creek Medical Center, Metro Knoxville HMA, LLC, Tennova
Women's Care-Turkey Creek, Knoxville HMA Physician
Management, LLC, William K. Webb, M.D., Stat Care Pulmonary
Consultants, Summit Medical Group, PLLC, Ernest Brian Kemp,
M.D., Knoxville Infectious Disease Consultants, P.C., William
J. Smith, M.D., Sudha Raghavan Nair, M.D., and EmCare
Physician Providers, Inc., a/k/a EmCare Physician Services,
Inc, a/k/a EmCare, Inc.
As required by T.C.A. §29-26-121(a)(2)(E), Mr. Short has
executed a HIP[A]A-compliant medical authorization
authorizing you to obtain complete medical records from
Michael D. Phillips, M.D., Leila K. Davis, M.D., Isham C.
Hewgley, III, M.D., Turkey Creek Medical Center, Metro
Knoxville HMA, LLC, Tennova Women's Care-Turkey Creek,
Knoxville HMA Physician Management, LLC, William K. Webb,
M.D., Stat Care Pulmonary Consultants, Summit Medical Group,
PLLC, Ernest Brian Kemp, M.D., Knoxville Infectious Disease
Consultants, P.C., William J. Smith, M.D., and Sudha Raghavan
Nair, M.D., and and [sic] EmCare Physician Providers, Inc.,
a/k/a EmCare Physician Services, Inc, a/k/a EmCare,
Neither this Notice, nor the medical authorization, waives
the common law physician patient privilege concerning the
care and treatment of Allison Short. We expect that you will
not communicate with any person, other than your attorney,
about the care and treatment of Allison Short.
(Footnote added). In the HIPAA authorization portion of the
packet, the following was stated as to disclosure:
I authorize the use or disclosure of the above named
individual's [Decedent's] health information as
The following individual or organization is authorized to
make the disclosure:
Provider: Douglas E. Holland, M.D.
The type and amount of information to be used or disclosed is
as follows: (include dates where appropriate) . . .
X entire record . . .
This information may be disclosed to and used by the
following individual or organization for the purpose of a
legal matter . . . [the listed providers]
numbers omitted). In September 2018, Physician Defendants
filed a motion to dismiss. A hearing was conducted on
Physician Defendants' motion, and in November 2018, the
Trial Court granted the motion. The Hospital moved to dismiss
as well and its motion, too, was granted. In December 2018,
the Trial Court entered its order of dismissal. The Trial
This cause came to be heard before the Honorable William
Ailor on November 2, 2018 for the Motion to Dismiss filed by
Defendants Sparrow Emergency Physicians, PLLC, Douglas E.
Holland, M.D., and Michael D. Phillips, M.D., and on November
30, 2018 for the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Metro
Knoxville HMA, LLC d/b/a Turkey Creek Medical Center and the
Response and Motion to Reconsider filed by Plaintiffs. Based
on the Motions to Dismiss, Memorandums in ...