Court subpoena

  1. First, just to clarify, I am NOT asking for legal advice. I was subpoena'd to court as a witness to something regarding a patient, related to something not to do with the hospital. I've never been to court, so I'm pretty nervous.

    For anyone who has ever had to testify. Were you allowed to answer questions based on what you remember, or is it strictly from your notes only? I'm hoping I documented my butt off. I'm pretty sure I did a thorough documentation, but who knows. I'm pretty darn nervous right now.
    •  
  2. Visit Simply Complicated profile page

    About Simply Complicated

    Joined: Mar '10; Posts: 1,152; Likes: 623
    Psych RN
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in Med/Surg, Neuro, ICU, travel RN, Psych

    20 Comments

  3. by   Perpetual Student
    If there's any possibility of this being related to a claim or involving you directly, contact your malpractice insurance company. Better to be safe than sorry. If it's a criminal or civil action against the former patient (or perhaps a person who harmed the patient), I wouldn't really worry about it and would just go with the flow.
  4. by   Simply Complicated
    Quote from Perpetual Student
    If there's any possibility of this being related to a claim or involving you directly, contact your malpractice insurance company. Better to be safe than sorry. If it's a criminal or civil action against the former patient (or perhaps a person who harmed the patient), I wouldn't really worry about it and would just go with the flow.
    I'm strictly a witness, has absolutely no bearing on me what so ever. I knew it was coming, but was only given a few days actual notice. So given no prep at all, which is why I'm so nervous I guess. I mean, in the end it has no effect on me at all, so not a huge deal. But going to court seems big, regardless, lol
  5. by   Ruas61
    Share your general experience when you are done. It would be intersting to hear about it.
  6. by   caliotter3
    I would not take notes into the hearing, I would answer based on my memory. Good luck with the nerves.
  7. by   Altra
    If it were me I would speak with my manager and ask to review at least my portion of the patient's chart. Your hospital's risk management/legal department should be made aware of your subpoena. And if you have malpractice insurance, I would contact that carrier as well.
  8. by   Simply Complicated
    [QUOTE=caliotter3;6397684]I would not take notes into

    I don't have notes, I'm referring to the documentation that I charted during the shift.
  9. by   Simply Complicated
    Quote from Altra
    If it were me I would speak with my manager and ask to review at least my portion of the patient's chart. Your hospital's risk management/legal department should be made aware of your subpoena. And if you have malpractice insurance, I would contact that carrier as well.
    Risk management is the ones who notified me. Well I notified my managers when I found out I would be subponea'd. Risk management sent us the info for court. We have not been given any prior notice. They just emailed me Thursday, I only work part time. So I literally found out the day before court, which is tomorrow. They didn't notify me when they first found out, as the subpoena is dated a couple weeks ago. They said the records from our charting would be sent seperately to the court, so I have no idea how this works. I have had no contact with the lawyer at all. I thought we would get to review things before. SO I guess I will get a quick chat with the lawyer when I get there. So I really have no idea what to expect.
  10. by   caliotter3
    [QUOTE=Simply Complicated;6397748]
    Quote from caliotter3
    I would not take notes into

    I don't have notes, I'm referring to the documentation that I charted during the shift.
    You would not have this. If they want you to refer to the documentation, it will be shown to you. You normally prepare by looking at copies of the documentation with your attorneys prior to the event. Your employer should be involved with the process of preparing you. If they are not helping you, I would wonder what is their stance about your involvement.
  11. by   Altra
    I'm just explaining how I would have approached this: if I received word on Thursday that I was to appear in court on Monday ... I would have been speaking with my manager that day and making arrangements to come in to work sometime between Thursday and Sunday to review the chart, no matter how inconvenient. Life happens.
  12. by   nurseprnRN
    call your malpractice insurance people stat so they can send an atty to look after your interests.
    from one of my resources:

    • think before you speak.
    • ask for time to review any written material before you answer a question, if needed.
    • if you make a mistake, correct it at once and apologize.
    • do not help the opposing attorney by volunteering information. be brief and concise with your answer. if more information is needed you will be asked for it. this requires the attorney to develop additional questions without your assistance.
    • if asked a yes-or-no question, give a yes-or-no answer. do not nod or say, “uh-huh.” however, if in your opinion it cannot be answered with a simple yes or no, say so and ask if the question can be rephrased.
    • wait for the attorney to complete the full question. avoid pregnant-pause traps: these are used so you will be tempted to jump in and complete the question or add additional information.
    • pause slightly before answering any question. this allows your attorney the chance to object to it if needed. if your attorney objects, stop talking, and wait for permission to answer the question.
    • if you do not completely understand or hear a question, politely ask for it to be repeated.
    • if a question is being asked in many parts, politely ask which part you should answer first.
    • the opposing attorney may ask you to make a conclusion by asking, “do you think…?”, “do you imagine…?”, “isn’t it possible…?” respond with, “i don’t know,” or, “i’d rather not guess.” you may be asked to provide an opinion to a specific hypothetical question. your answer can then be, “the answer to this hypothetical question is….”
    • the opposing attorney may ask the same question repeatedly throughout the deposition in an attempt to get a different answer. do not become frustrated; answer the question consistently and calmly.
    • do not be goaded into anger, sarcasm, or humor. should the opposing attorney talk fast, yell, or whisper, remain calm and continue to speak in an even tone. you control the speed of cross-examination. the attorney can ask the question as fast as he wants, but you are allowed to answer the question in your own time before being asked another.

    a final point: attorneys use depositions to evaluate the opposing side’s expert. careful preparation, an appropriate appearance, good listening skills, honesty, objectivity, and a professional demeanor increases your credibility as a nurse.
  13. by   NicuGal
    Usually, your legal department briefs you. Did you give a deposition? To go on the stand, you have to give a deposition first. You have to get the chart from legal, you can't just ask to see the chart. Are you actually going to the courthouse?

    I have been called as a witness in several cases and I have always had a briefing with our legal department and gone thru the chart with them, then given a deposition, then called to court MONTHS after. This doesn't sound right at all. And they should be contacting you by phone, not email. They usually follow up by email once they meet with you. And if this is truly the case and you have not been prepared then if you have malpractice insurance I would be giving them a call right now.

    Edited: The above was posted at the same time as mine...and those points are WHY your legal department should be working with you. It is a whole different ballgame when you are on that stand and if they haven't prepared you and gone over your documentation, you could be hung while you are up there. Being on the stand is not anything I would wish on anyone...they will ask you 5 things 5 different ways and twist what you said. And if you don't know, say I don't know or I don't recall. Don't try to fudge thru something and don't elaborate, that is what your defense team is for, they will let you elaborate by guiding you thru a testimony. But that is what concerns me...that you aren't prepared.
  14. by   Simply Complicated
    Quote from Altra
    I'm just explaining how I would have approached this: if I received word on Thursday that I was to appear in court on Monday ... I would have been speaking with my manager that day and making arrangements to come in to work sometime between Thursday and Sunday to review the chart, no matter how inconvenient. Life happens.
    I recieved word TODAY that I have to be there tomorrow. I only work part time, so while they sent the email to my work email on Thursday afternoon, I did not actually recieve it until today. That was why I was asking if anyone else had been to court, just so I have a rough idea what to expect. We do not have managers here on the weekends. I work in psych, the hospital nursing supervisor is available for any major issues, but otherwise we are on our own.

close