Sometimes when a patient is involved in a lawsuit, a health care professional must give a deposition. Sometimes the health care professional is a witness. Other times the health care professional is a defendant. Under either scenario, there are several strategies that health care professionals can use to give the clearest and best testimony possible:
1. When you do not remember a particular situation, explain what your normal practice is when faced with that situation. Example: “I do not remember this particular patient visit; however, if a patient told me that he had been experiencing occasional shortness of breath, I would document that in the medical record.”
2. Make sure it is clear whether the attorney is asking you about the particular patient at issue in the lawsuit, about patients with a certain medical condition in general, or about a hypothetical situation. Ask for clarification if necessary. Example: “Are you asking me about Mr. Johnson? Or, are you asking me about diabetic patients in general?”
3. Make sure there is no ambiguity as to the time frame you are discussing. Ask for clarification as needed. Example: “Are you asking me whether Ms. Smith mentioned having pain when I saw her back in 2012 or are you asking about the visit in October 2014?”
4. Always emphasize that each patient is different. Do not agree with generalizations about what a health care professional should do in a situation. Example: “No, I do not agree that chest pain always requires an emergency room visit. Each patient is different, and I evaluate each patient’s symptoms and condition individually.”
These are just a few quick tips for health care professionals facing depositions. Before you give a deposition, Chapman Law Group attorneys can prepare you fully so that you know what to expect and so that you understand what issues are important to your individual case.