Published Jul 3, 2009
I've been a nurse for a couple years now on an acute hospital floor. I just received a phone call for the first time that an attorney wants to ask me some questions and also other nurses who took care of that patient because the family is planning on suing the hospital that I work in (the case hasn't been brought to court yet from what i was told) I dont really know the details yet as I have yet to talk to the hospital attorney. So I don't know what the family is suing for.
I'm not going to go into details because I want to keep some anonymity to this post, But I'm suppose to talk to the hospital attorney and I'm just in a nervous wreck right now lol. working on the floor is so busy at times, hey If I did a good job charting I should be safe, but I don't really remember and if i didn't i'm screwed. I've never been in this situation and this is a first for me and its really an eye opener.
well any advice and tips on what's gonna happen what can I expect when I talk with the attorney and whats gonna happen afterwards, I'd like to hear from you guys.
geekgolightly, BSN, RN
You should be given a chance to look over your charting before speaking with any outside attorney and request that the chart be in office when you speak with the hospital attorney, if you are unable to go over it prior to the meeting. This attorney is here to cover the hospital. Lots of times that means helping you, but if there are any issues, I would also hire an attorney to at least look over everything and give you his/her opinion.
I am very glad that you didn't speak directly with the plaintiffs attorney directly. Some nurses are suckered into that and it's so dangerous.
southernbeegirl, BSN, RN
I had to go see the hospital lawyer once over a med error i had made. i had transcribed a drug wrong on the discharge med orders and ended up putting the patient on a med he'd never had before. (we always wrote out the meds and the doc just signed them. they dont do that anymore, lol) thankfully there was no harm to the patient.
it was fine, dont worry! the hospital has to do their own depositions to determine their culpability. they will talk to everyone that took care of the patient.
when i went, the lawyer allready had copies of the whole chart. while we talked, i was able to flip thru the chart to refresh my memory and answer questions.
dont be scared of the hospital lawyer, save that for the plaintiff's deposition, lol
Always be scared of ANY lawyer, even possibly the one you hire to represent and protect YOU.
Why? Your attorney might not know what he or she is doing, could miss filing deadlines, could have his or her mind elsewhere, might irritate the judge or mediator or plaintiff or whoever else there is to irritate, might not comprehend the whole case and your role in it, etc. Lawyers are only human, therefore fallible, prone to errors, just like anyone else.
Say NOTHING to ANYONE without hearing what the hospital attorney has to say and without also speaking to your OWN lawyer.
Always be scared of ANY lawyer, even possibly the one you hire to represent and protect YOU. Why? Your attorney might not know what he or she is doing, could miss filing deadlines, could have his or her mind elsewhere, might irritate the judge or mediator or plaintiff or whoever else there is to irritate, might not comprehend the whole case and your role in it, etc. Lawyers are only human, therefore fallible, prone to errors, just like anyone else.Say NOTHING to ANYONE without hearing what the hospital attorney has to say and without also speaking to your OWN lawyer.
along the lines of what vito is posting, i'm thinking "i don't remember" will be a useful response to most of the atty's questions.
don't let anyone intimidate you...
simply, calmly, w/steady eye contact...
"i don't remember".
he'll haaaaaaate you for it.
seriously, don't sweat it.
and if this isn't a lesson to you, get your own darned nursing insurance!!
you'll be fine.:)
Do you carry your own malpractice insurance?! Might be a good idea to make them aware and get their advice on how to proceed.
Keep all your answers short and to the point. Yes and no will suffice in many instances. Don't give long winded answers and don't be overly elaborate. You can take time to think before you respond if need be and then state yes and no anytime that will do. Less is better here. And if you don't remember as Leslie points out above state that.
What I have learned not in nursing since I have not finished my undergraduate courses yet but from an accident I had when I was 18. NEVER talk to the defendants attorney with out either your own attorney or in your case the hospital attorney by your side. In my case I wasn't even involved in the accident and the defendants attorney tried pinning the accident on me. Fortunately the Judge was smart enough to see through the smoke screen the the defendants attorney was blowing.
I recently had a situation where I discharged a pt to a ltc facility and they immediately sent her back to the er with a problem that was missed by both myself and the doctor. We had to have a meeting w/corporate attorney, managers, and everyone involved in her care. Thankfully, we were given the chance to tune up our charting before the medical records would be released to the families lawyer. Ask your managers what the policy is on releasing medical records. It is in the hospitals best interest to ensure that you charted everything accurately.
Immediately inform your malpractice insurance carrier. Before you speak to anyone about this, obtain your own legal counsel. Do not discuss anything with anyone but your own attorney at this point, including giving details on this public site.
PICNICRN, BSN, RN
You should NEVER speak with any attorney unless you are represented!!!! Also, the fact that this "attorney" was asking for info because the "family was thinking about suing" is a huge red flag to me. You should only be questioned if you were named in the lawsuit period!! Now, if the family does sue, likely they will name anyone who ever signed the chart, in my experience. You need to just stay calm and DO NOT SPEAK TO ANYONE about this case until you speak with your hospital legal team.
IF you are called to give a deposition, you will be provided with a copy of the medical record for your review. Most likely, you will not remember much and you will simply state as such. If you do have to provide a deposition, you attorney will coach you on how to answer questions- simple yes/no answers and such. It really is not as bad as it seems- remember, no one is after you personally.
Take a deep breath, it will be fine!
Lacie, BSN, RN
Your hospital legal team should have someone there to represent you in this case and also help prepare you prior to any questioning. If you have personal malpractice insurance notifiy them asap. You dont have to speak to anyone without that representation and I wouldnt without! I have had to do a total of 2 depositions over the past 28 years and I was well prepared before I ever met with the other sides attorneys. If the MD or the hospital is being sued doesnt mean you are being named, they just may want you to go over your recollection and your charting. Go over the chart thoroughly. Only answer yes or no and offer no additional information. Lot's of "I dont recall that or this" is very good also. Again you dont allow any appointments to be scheduled with the clamaints attorney until you have legal representation provided by your hospital or your liabilty insurance. If sueing the hospital they have the attorneys. My cases didnt come up till over 3 years after the patients deaths but my hospital's representatives made sure I had copies of everything and also helped prepare me and were in attendance of everything!
cherrybreeze, ADN, RN
I (eventually) will be testifying in a case; not malpractice, but a visitor assaulted a patient and I was the nurse, therefore I was the only witness (scary as heck, this gal has a rap sheet long as she is tall). Anyway. I've talked to the hospital atty (before the trial was postponed) and he said a couple of things that are good to remember....answer only the questions they are asking, offer no extra info. If you don't recall, say you don't recall.
You'll do fine.
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