Can a Healthcare Provider be held Civilly Liable for not Following the Provisions of a Living Will in Tennessee?

Posted on Nov 11 2013 10:34AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

A healthcare provider, including a physician, can be held civilly liable for not following the provisions of a living will executed properly under Tennessee law.  T.C.A. § 32-11-108 provides as follows:


(a) Any physician or other individual health care provider who cannot in good conscience comply with the provisions of such a living will, on being informed of the declaration, shall so inform the declarant, or if the declarant is not competent, the declarant's next of kin or a legal guardian, and at their option make every reasonable effort to assist in the transfer of the patient to another physician who will comply with the declaration. Any health care provider who fails to make good faith reasonable efforts to comply with the preceding procedure as prescribed by the attending physician shall be civilly liable and subject to professional disciplinary action, including revocation or suspension of license. The health care provider shall not be subject to civil liability for medical care provided during the interim period until transfer is effectuated.


(b) A physician or other health care provider who, by no fault of such physician as health care provider, has not received notice of a declaration, revocation, or other change shall not suffer civil, administrative, or criminal penalties under this chapter.


As a result, if a physician or other healthcare provider cannot comply with a living will in good conscience then this statute provides a requirement that they make efforts to assist in the transfer of the patient to another physician who will comply with the living will declaration.  If the healthcare provider does not make reasonable efforts to comply with the provisions of the living will or to transfer the care of the patient, they “shall be civilly liable” and subject to disciplinary action.  As a result, healthcare providers must be very careful to make sure they follow the requirements of a living will in Tennessee.


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TAGS: Living Will
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. Contact Jason at 615-540-1004 or jlee@burrowlee.com for an initial consultation on wills estate planning and probate issues.

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Tennessee Wills and Estates Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com