2013 Tennessee Legislation – New requirements for healthcare providers to provide infant CPR information and instruction.

Posted on Jun 17 2013 8:40AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  The Tennessee legislature passed Public Chapter No. 197 which was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on April 23, 2013.  Public Chapter No. 197 provides a new requirement for almost every kind of health care practitioner or health care facility that provides health care to prenatal patients or newborns.  This bill requires these health care providers to provide infant CPR “information and instruction concerning the appropriate use and techniques of infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).” TCA § 68-5-___ (the new bill did not designate a specific section for the statute but that will be done shortly).  This new law goes into effect on July 1, 2013.


The information and instruction is required to be provided to one (1) parent or caregiver of the newborn infant.  It is also important to point out that this new statute does not go as far as requiring classes in certification for infant CPR.  The entire text of this new statute is as follows:




(a)        Hospitals, birthing centers, health care facilities, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants or other health care practitioners who provide medical care to newborns as well as obstetricians who provide routine care for prenatal patients shall make available information and instruction concerning the appropriate use of techniques of infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to at least one (1) parent or caregiver of a newborn infant.  Nothing in this section shall require classes in certification of infant CPR.  This section shall also not constitute a requirement to be assessed during any inspection under Chapter 11, part 2 of this title.


(b)        Any facility or practitioner acting within the scope of their licensure or practice shall be immune from any civil liability under this section and shall have an affirmative defense to any criminal liability arising from making such information available.


Obviously, this statute opens up the possibility of liability (including a potential negligence per se violation) should a healthcare provider fail to provide infant CPR instruction and information.  If anything happens to a newborn child and CPR is not performed properly by the parents or caregiver because they do not know how to perform CPR, this statute opens up the health care providers to liability if they failed to comply with this statute.  As a result, it is very important for all health care facilities and providers to have a specific requirement that this information and instruction be provided.  This author recommends that this should be documented in writing with a signature of the family member or caregiver that was provided the appropriate information and instruction under the statute. 


I have four young children and I know how difficult the checkout process already is after having a newborn infant as there are numerous documents that need to be signed and various representations that need to be made.  However, if the hospital and medical care practitioner do not provide this information and instruction already, it must do so starting on July 1, 2013 even if it means a longer checkout process.  It is my opinion the best practice is to have a signed document in writing in each patient file regarding specific compliance with this new statute.  If this is not done and something happens to the child where proper CPR could have made a difference, then this statute provides a new avenue for liability of the practitioner or facility.      


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TAGS: 2013 Tennessee Legislation, Tennessee Medical Malpractice/Health Care Liability, Wrongful Death
Jason  -  7/5/2013 9:08:48 AM

I agree there are a lot of fact specific questions that would apply to each specific practice and facility. Each clinic or practitioner needs to look at these obligations very seriously because of the potential liability if the statute is not complied with as required. Your specific questions require a more detailed review of other applicable statutes and definitions found in the statutes (for example how "newborn" is defined in Tennessee statutes). I recommend that anyone who comes within this statute carefully review these requirements and consult counsel if necessary because the downside risk is so significant.


Annie Church  -  7/5/2013 9:00:46 AM
this is very unclear as to who all must repeat this education- is one-time, reviewed at discharge and handed info enough? does each medical provider have to give the information or just assure that it has been given? do we have similar obligations in our offices? do we again provide info at the nursery follow-up (3-4d, 1 wk check, 2 wk check, 1 month check- when does the legislature not consider a baby a newborn?

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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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