In 2012, medical malpractice defendants and their defense attorneys earned the right to petition the court for a qualified protective order that would allow them to interview plaintiffs' health care providers without the presence of the claimants or their attorneys. At that time, one of the conditions for the order was that it limit the disclosure of any protected health information to the litigation before the court.
That law was amended on March 20, 2013, when Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed S.B. 273. The new law requires the defendants to return or destroy the protected health information obtained under such an order, including all copies, when the litigation ends. This new requirement, similar to the requirement that exists under HIPAA, applies to litigations that begin on and after July 1, 2013. Defendants in these cases - health care providers - will need to be sure they keep track of all this health information they obtain under these orders, including all electronic versions, to ensure they are returned or destroyed as required under the new law.