Preparing Staff for Depositions

November 1, 2008 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Nursing homes, continuing care facilities, and assisted-living facilities have been feeling the impact of our litigious society as lawsuits rise in frequency and jury verdicts escalate. Multimillion-dollar verdicts against nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are no longer a rare phenomenon. Tort reform legislation recently enacted in some states and more effective risk management and quality improvement programs implemented in long-term care facilities should work in tandem to reduce the frequency of lawsuits. Nevertheless, aggrieved and injured residents, their families, and their legal representatives will continue to assert the right to seek amends in court. Consequently, long-term care risk managers should develop an understanding of the civil litigation process so that they may effectively assist the facility’s defense counsel.

Civil litigation frequently involves pretrial discovery proceedings in which evidence is gathered by all parties to the dispute. Through their attorneys, the parties may exchange written questions and/or take oral testimony from witnesses and other parties in a process known as a deposition. Risk managers may assist their organization’s defense counsel in scheduling depositions of employees; obtaining original records, policies, procedures, and other documents that are requested for use at a deposition; and assisting legal counsel in preparing the organization’s employees for their deposition experience.

This Risk Analysis provides general information about the deposition process and discusses typical and practical issues that should be considered when depositions are conducted at the defendant facility. The Risk Analysis also includes tips that may...

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