Preparing Staff for Depositions

November 1, 2008 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Among a risk manager’s many job functions may be working with the facility’s legal counsel to coordinate a claims defense strategy and to support facility staff  in legal proceedings, such as discovery depositions in malpractice cases in which the organization or its employees are parties. Risk managers may assist their organization’s defense counsel in scheduling depositions of employees; in obtaining original nonprivileged records, diagnostic images, or documents that are requested for use at a deposition; and in preparing the organization’s employees for their deposition experience.

Deposition testimony of parties and witnesses plays a central role in the discovery phase of litigation as the parties uncover facts and develop legal theories in support of their respective positions. Discovery depositions also reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a case and provide insight into how a jury may assess the credibility of key witnesses. As a result, discovery depositions can have significant bearing on the outcome or disposition of a lawsuit. Risk managers who have a clear understanding of the deposition process, the importance of good witness preparation, and the uses of depositions can develop a more comfortable and efficient working relationship with the organization’s legal counsel, employee witnesses, and defendants.

This Risk Analysis provides basic information about the conduct of depositions and discusses how depositions are used by plaintiff and defense attorneys in medical malpractice cases. It also provides practical information and guidance for risk managers who assist their organization’s in-house legal counsel or retained defense counsel...

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