NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that hospitals must release liens against patients once they and their insurers have paid their full charges.

The case was filed by three emergency patients against the Regional Medical Center in Memphis over the practice of refusing to release the liens after the bills had been paid.

The high court said that even when the Med determined that another person might be liable for injuries it would still file a lien against the patients in the hope of recovering additional money.

The case was initially dismissed, but was reinstated by the Court of Appeals. On appeal, the Supreme Court found that state law allowing hospital liens does not allow the Med to maintain its liens after the bills have been paid.

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