Highlights from TMA Annual Meeting
Highlights from TMA Annual Meeting | TMA, Tennessee Medical Association, House of Delegates, Richard DePersio, MedTenn 2009

Dr. DePersio (right) accepting gavel from outgoing TMA President Dr. Robert Kirkpatrick.

Patient Safety, Disaster Preparedness & a New President

The Tennessee Medical Association held its 174th annual meeting in Nashville last month. MedTenn 2009 was the Tennessee Medical Association's primary membership meeting and policy forum for physician leaders representing 7,800 physicians in Tennessee.

The meeting included the convening of TMA's House of Delegates (HOD) –– the democratic process for physicians to gather as a professional group and debate and shape policies that will affect the practice of medicine and the delivery of patient care in both Tennessee and the United States.

Among other policy issues, the HOD debated 13 resolutions concerning patient safety, public health, medical technology healthcare quality, disaster preparedness and medical liability. The delegates took final action on:

Disaster Preparedness - TMA will seek to collaborate with existing federal and state disaster preparedness plans to help enroll physicians to serve as disaster volunteers, educate physicians on their role as a disaster responder, and coordinate physician response in times of emergency.

Patient Safety - TMA will explore options to set a statewide standard for identification badges for all healthcare providers. Delegates debated the numerous and inconsistent approaches currently used for professional identification in healthcare settings, the increased potential for patient confusion and their concern for patient safety problems that could result.

New Leadership

Delegates to the annual meeting finalized the installation of new TMA leaders:

Dr. Richard J. DePersio, a Knoxville otolaryngologist, became the association's 155th president.

Dr. B.W. Ruffner, a Chattanooga oncologist and internal medicine specialist, will serve as president-elect for 2009-2010.

Dr. Robert A. Kerlan, a gastroenterologist from Memphis, will serve as chairman of the TMA Board of Trustees for the next three years.

New members selected to serve three-year terms on the TMA Board of Trustees are:

Dr. Channappa Chandra, Chattanooga; orthopaedic surgeon
Dr. Roy King, Knoxville; pathologist/dermatopathologist
Dr. Matthew L. Mancini, Knoxville; general surgeon
Dr. Charles E. Leonard, Talbott; family medicine
Dr. Edmund T. Palmer, Jackson; internal medicine
Dr. Charles T. Womack, Cookeville; urologist
Dr. Michael D. Zanolli, Nashville; dermatologist


Public Health - Additional resolutions to mandate colon cancer screening, to strengthen liability protection for federally-mandated emergency care (EMTALA), and to enhance TMA resources on electronic health records and personal health records were referred to the Association's Board of Trustees for further study and action.

During the annual awards luncheon, Philip Burns, MD, (Chattanooga); Maury Bronstein, MD, (Memphis); and Thomas Guv Pennington, MD, (Nashville) received Outstanding Physician Awards. The Distinquished (Physician) Service Awards went to Richard Briggs, MD, (Knoxville); David N. Collins, MD, (Chattanooga); John R. Gibson, MD, (Nashville); and William Z. Taylor, MD, (Memphis). Community Service Awards were given to Volunteers in Medicine based in Chattanooga and the United Way of Greater Knoxville.

The meeting culminated with the installation of the TMA's 155th leader as the gavel passed from the outgoing president Robert D. Kirkpatrick, MD, of Memphis to the newly installed president, Richard J. DePersio, MD, an otolaryngologist from Knoxville.

"As a practicing physician in Tennessee, it is certainly reassuring to see physicians giving of their personal time, outside of their practices, to give back to the profession and give serious consideration to the issues challenging or patients and our peers," said DePersio. "This meeting marks the largest concentration of physicians to congregate in our state each year. We have dozens of medical specialties come from all corners of our state, representing all levels of medical careers, from students to retired physicians, but we all have one mission for this meeting and that's to make Tennessee a better, healthier place to live and work."