The state of Tennessee is graced with some of the finest health care professionals, educational institutions, postgraduate programs and treatment facilities in the United States. The majority of health practitioners in Tennessee are competent and caring individuals and most persons are satisfied with the level of care they receive.
However, when a problem is experienced with a practitioner, you have the right to report him/her. If you believe that a practitioner’s performance or behavior is not acceptable, you may file a complaint through Health Related Boards, Office of Investigations.
Issues Not Within Board Authority
Contact Consumer Affairs at 1-800-342-8385
The Department of Health has the authority for various licensing boards whose responsibilities are to protect the public interest. This is accomplished through enforcement of the particular Practice Act of each board, which examines, licenses, and oversees the practice of the licensees. The licensing boards oversee individual practitioners and in some instances regulate educational programs.
The responsible board evaluates the credentials and qualifications of each practitioner. After practitioners become licensed, the Board will review any complaint received that may put the professional behavior and/or performance of the practitioner in question. Such complaints may suggest a violation of the Practice Act. Complaints are received from various sources, i.e. the general public, insurance companies, hospitals and other health care facilities, health professionals and the news media. If you feel that a practitioner has failed to live up to his/her professional responsibilities, the Health Related Boards want to hear from you.
While a board cannot assist with civil or criminal matters and does not represent individuals, the Tennessee Practice Acts allow the licensing boards to act on behalf of the people of Tennessee at large. When a board determines that disciplinary action against a practitioner is necessary, the action focuses on prevention of further problems with the practitioner and the protection of future patients. In essence, a board has the power to control a practitioner’s ability to practice in the future in the state of Tennessee, but cannot impute criminal penalties. Any person seeking to recover fees or monetary remedies for injuries should consult a private attorney regarding those matters. The State of Tennessee has no jurisdiction over these types of situations.
While the Department of Health hopes that you will never have to file a complaint against a health care practitioner, doing so is a simple matter. You may contact the Complaint Divisions of the Department of Health at 1-800-852-2187 to request a complaint form.The form must be completed in its entirety. All materials received in connection with the complaint will become property of the Department of Health and cannot be returned. Please return the complaint to:
Office of Investigations
227 French Landing, Suite 201
Heritage Place Metro Center
Nashville, TN 37243
Upon receipt of the complaint form, the designated board consultant (who is a practitioner from the particular health profession) and an attorney review the complaint thoroughly to determine whether there has been a violation of the Practice Act.
The board consultant and the attorney examine the details of the complaint. The practitioner may be contacted and relevant records may be studied. The review process may also involve the review of practitioner files, both public and confidential. Through the review process, the consultant and attorney will reach a decision whether to investigate the complaint or not. This process may take several months to complete. This is determined by the complexity of the complaint.
Throughout the process, the practitioner’s due process rights are assured. The final decision that is reached by the Board will be based on the findings of an investigation. In some cases, a formal public hearing is held.
You may call the Complaint Division from time to time to inquire about the progress of the complaint. While state law does not allow the staff to give details of an investigation, you may request a general status report. Due to the nature of complaints and complex legal and medical issues that are involved, your patience, cooperation and understanding is appreciated.
When a decision is reached, you will receive a letter from the board consultant. The specific content of such letters varies depending upon the circumstances of the complaint. However, they are generally one of the following types.
1. There was no violation of the Practice Act that would lead to disciplinary action, but the practitioner has been informed of the concerns that lead to the complaint.
2. There was a violation of the Practice Act and a formal disciplinary action was taken, made part of the public record, and reported statewide and to the national data bank.
All complaints received are taken seriously and a thorough and fair evaluation under the law is conducted.