In medical malpractice cases, form triumphs over substance way too often. Tennessee has been largely immune from this problem because, for years, Tennessee malpractice law did not require plaintiffs’ lawyers to jump through the hoops required by many states. Now, Tennessee has added a certificate of merit requirement and other technical obligations to filing a medical malpractice case.
You know, I’m fine with these requirements. What I don’t like is when potentially worthy plaintiffs are denied justice permanently because their lawyers screw up the details.
This is what happened in Williams v. Mountain States Health Alliance. In Williams, a 68-year-old female patient was undergoing myocardial perfusion imaging (a nuclear stress test) when she fell off the table to which she had been strapped. During the procedure, the patient made a sudden movement, broke free of the table straps, and fell onto the floor hitting her right side. Prior to the fall, the patient had suffered a stroke and paralysis to the right side of her body. Additionally, she was morbidly obese. The technicians who strapped the patient to the table allegedly knew (or should have known) this.