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Is it legal for a hospital to withhold information that could implicate the nursing supervisor in a medical malpratice suit?

Monday April 14, 2014
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

Is it legal for a hospital to withhold information that could implicate the nursing supervisor in a medical malpratice suit?

Bruno



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Bruno,

You did not provide details concerning your question so only a general response can be made. There is no question it is not legal or ethical for anyone to withhold information of someone's conduct that could bear upon the professional negligence or non-negligence of an individual or a named party in a medical malpractice suit.

What your question raises is why, and by whom, this information is being withheld. Is it being withheld by the attorney representing the facility where the nursing supervisor works? Or by a named defendant (e.g., another nurse) who is not testifying truthfully to what he or she knows? Or by a family member who is concerned about some retaliation against the patient or another
family member?

Also of concern is how the attorney representing the plaintiff (the patient) is handling his/her legal obligations in questioning the named defendant or defendants and other witnesses. Did the question come up of what, if any, role the nursing supervisor had in regard to the injury that is the basis of the suit. Or, were the questions asked but those testifying did not answer truthfully.

If you are aware that someone is not testifying truthfully, or if you have information that may be essential for the judge (if a bench trial) or a jury (if a jury trial) to know, you need to consider coming forward with this information. To do so, you should seek the advice of a nurse attorney or other attorney who will represent you in this matter and carefully guide you as to what you need to do.

Sincerely,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.