By the middle of the first decade of this century, Tennessee was declared a medical liability “crisis state” by the American Medical Association. This characterization was based on the fact that the high cost of medical malpractice insurance for doctors and rising jury awards were forcing physicians to retire, restrict their services, or flee the state and practice elsewhere. To address this, the Tennessee legislature passed a tort reform bill in 2008. While the bill did not put caps on damages that plaintiffs could be awarded, it did make it slightly harder for them to sue. The new law required plaintiffs to give 60 day notice before filing a malpractice suit, and more importantly, it required plaintiffs to get a certificate of merit from a medical professional alleging that the lawsuit has some merit.
In the year that the new bill has been in place, the number of medical malpractice suits filed in Tennessee has dropped by 60%. However, this drop in cases has not yet been reflected in the cost of malpractice insurance for health professional.