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- by Scis Jan 2, '04Question:
As a certified emergency nurse (CEN) specializing in trauma at a
level I trauma center in Northern NJ, I am often called upon as a
witness against patients to which I have adminitstered care. I
am per-diem at two different emergency rooms in northern NJ.
On several occasions, weeks have elapsed, and when I report to
shifts, I find legal notices tacked up onto bulletin boards, walls, etc. notifying me that I am to testify as a witness. There is never an attempt by the hospital to contact me at home, nor is there
any attempt by the legal authority summoning me to contact me
at home. I simply find these notices by chance, or if a particular clerk is astute, they will call me an notify me to come and pick up
I was recently called by a clerk at this trauma center informing me that an "official legal notice" will be kept for me in the clerk's drawer so I can pick it up when I report to work again. I will be taking on a full-time position at another hospital, and will not be working in the trauma center until I am acclimated to the new
What obligations am I held to if these notices are simply mailed or left at the institutions for which I work if they are not personnally delivered to me? Sometimes the court date passes before I get the notice. This time, I had the clerk open the notice, and the date has not passed, however, I will be just starting up the new position and will have to tell my supervisor that I need time off for court. As you well know, the court date seldom holds, and I am afraid that I will need excessive time off from the new job, thus jeopardizing my position. Does a witness need to be served in person? Any assistance will be appreciated.
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- Jan 4, '04 by stevieraeIn my opinion, Risk Management or someone from the hospital legal team should be calling you privately to let you know a certified letter is on its way to your home, and making an appointment to meet with you on paid time (during work hours, that is) to discuss the case with you.
I think posting it on the break room bulleting board is highly unprofessional and inappropriate, and an invasion of your privacy--I mean, what do your co-workers think when they see these notices--"She has to testify AGAIN?"
Don't you think there are probably some snide remarks made behind your back about that; about the quality of nursing care delivered--and if it is not YOUR nursing care that is in question, don't you think they wonder if they have to watch their backs around you? That they wonder what you are saying, as a fact witness, about THEIR nursing care? Just a thought.
- Jan 4, '04 by Havin' A Party!If I wasn't regularly at the facility, I'd make a request in writing (and keep a copy, of course) to the appropriate manager to mail / call me regarding any legal notice that comes in for moi.
If I then didn't get timely notified, I'd contact the court clerk and so advise, explaining my previous arrangement (as above) with the hospital.
Your new boss has to understand that everyone's subject to legal procedures.
- Jan 4, '04 by ScisThanks for the responses. I picked up said "Official Legal Notice", which apparently had been opened multiple times and restapled back together! Researched the patient on the computer, found it to be one who had driven drunk, caused two fatalities, and I was
requested to draw the blood for ETOH level by the city police dept.
In the Level I center where I was practicing that night, the new
policy regarding intoxicated drivers is to call a judge (it was 4:15AM when I spoke to the judge from his bed!) prior to requesting the patient to submit to the blood draw. I followed all the requirements of the hospital procedure and obtained consent from the patient before drawing the blood. This is NOT incidentally to protect the patient's rights, but rather because car insurance companies do not pay the trauma medical bill if the patient is proven to be driving drunk by blood draw. Apparently too much revenue was lost by our previous trauma blood protocol of adding an ETOH level to all major traumas, as an aid to rule out altered mental status from possible head trauma vs. intoxication.
Anyway, I imagine I should obtain a copy of the protocol for my own information, however, I think the point of calling Risk and
Claims is a pertinent one. I can also at that time inform them of
the invasion of privacy factor of having these important notices simply laid about for all to see.
Thanks so much.
Scis, RN CEN