2014 Tennessee Code
Title 68 - Health, Safety and Environmental Protection
Health
Chapter 11 - Health Facilities and Resources
Part 2 - Regulation of Health and Related Facilities
§ 68-11-255 - Procedure for surrendering custody of unwanted infant without criminal liability.

TN Code § 68-11-255 (2014) What's This?

(a) As used in this section and in § 36-1-142, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Facility" means any hospital as defined by § 68-11-201, birthing center as defined by § 68-11-201, community health clinic, out-patient "walk-in" clinic, fire department that is staffed twenty-four (24) hours a day, law enforcement facility that is staffed twenty-four (24) hours a day or emergency medical services facility;

(2) "Member of the professional medical community" has the meaning provided in § 68-140-102; provided, that the member of the professional medical community is on the premises at the time of a voluntary delivery; and

(3) "Voluntary delivery" means the action of a mother in leaving an unharmed infant aged seventy-two (72) hours or younger on the premises of a facility, with any facility employee or member of the professional medical community at the facility without expressing any intention to return for the infant, and failing to visit or seek contact with the infant for a period of thirty (30) days thereafter.

(b) Any facility shall receive possession of any newborn infant left on facility premises with any facility employee or member of the professional medical community, if the infant:

(1) Was born within the preceding seventy-two-hour period, as determined within a reasonable degree of medical certainty;

(2) Is left in an unharmed condition; and

(3) Is voluntarily left by a person who purports to be the child's mother and who does not express an intention of returning for the infant.

(c) The facility, any facility employee and any member of the professional medical community at such facility shall inquire, whenever possible, about the medical history of the mother or newborn, and whenever possible, shall seek the identity of the mother, infant or the father of the infant. The facility shall also inform the mother that she is not required to respond, but that the information will facilitate the adoption of the child. Any information obtained concerning the identity of the mother, infant or other parent shall be kept confidential and may only be disclosed to the department of children's services for use consistent with the purposes of this section, § 36-1-142, and § 36-2-318. The facility may provide the parent contact information regarding relevant social service agencies, shall provide the mother with the name, address and phone number of the department contact person, and shall encourage the mother to involve the department of children's services in the relinquishment of the infant. If practicable, the facility shall also provide the mother with both orally delivered and written information concerning the requirements of this section, § 36-1-142, and § 36-2-318 relating to recovery of the child and abandonment of the child.

(d) The facility, any facility employee and any member of the professional medical community at the facility shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health and safety of the child.

(e) As soon as reasonably possible, and no later than twenty-four (24) hours after receiving a newborn infant, the facility shall contact the department of children's services, but shall not do so before the mother leaves the facility. Upon receipt of notification, the department shall immediately assume care, custody and control of the infant.

(f) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any facility, any facility employee and any member of the professional medical community shall be immune from any criminal or civil liability for damages as a result of any actions taken pursuant to the requirements of this section and § 36-1-142, and no lawsuit shall be predicated thereon; provided, however, that nothing in this section and § 36-1-142 shall be construed to abrogate any existing standard of care for medical treatment or to preclude a cause of action based upon violation of such existing standard of care for medical treatment.

(g) No criminal prosecution shall be based upon a mother's act of voluntarily delivering her unharmed infant at a facility pursuant to this section if the mother acts in full compliance with this section.

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