Malpractice Payouts Down in Tennessee in 2006

November 5, 2007

The amount paid in medical malpractice lawsuits in Tennessee was down last year from 2005, according to a new state report.

Tennessee trial courts issued six medical malpractice judgments totaling $4.9 million during 2006, down from more than $6 million in 2005, according to a state Department of Commerce and Insurance report released Nov. 1.

Total damages paid in settlements dropped to $100.2 million in 2006, down from $141 million in 2005.

The report noted 85 percent of the state’s malpractice claims last year resulted in no payment of damages.

In recent years, health care advocates and a number of state lawmakers have said Tennessee has a medical liability crisis and that patient access to care in certain specialty areas is at risk.

Legislative attempts at reform have failed, including an effort this year to limit malpractice lawsuits.

Based upon financial data reported to the department, insurance companies wrote more than $345 million in medical malpractice premiums in Tennessee in 2006.

Expenses paid in 2006 for defending medical malpractice claims totaled $67 million compared to $61.7 million in 2005.

The report is required by state law adopted in 2004 as a result of a study committee conducted by the General Assembly. This was the first report where the state’s trial lawyers were required to submit information to the department.

A copy of the report is available at the department’s Web site at

Information from: Kingsport Times-News,

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