Nursing expert witnesses play a crucial role in resolving nursing malpractice cases. Here are some common questions.
My nursing expert review records are a mess
I got the records directly from the law firm. They are a mess. What should I do?
It is difficult to review records that are not organized. Make every effort to put the records together in a logical way to facilitate your review. Placing hole punched and organized medical records in binders makes it easier to complete your review.
The records I got for my review are missing pieces
As I go through the records, I see that sections are missing. Whom should I contact?
It is appropriate to call the attorney’s secretary or paralegal and let that person know what you are missing. This type of request does not have to be presented to the attorney, unless the attorney has no staff.
Can I write on the records?
Please don’t. Underlining or highlighting on records you received for review may be questioned at your deposition. Also, if you do not find you can help the attorney and are asked to send the records back, the copy you wrote on now becomes unusable if the attorney decides to have another expert review the case.
How do I get the incident report and the facility’s policies?
If the suit has not yet been filed, the state rules may not permit access to these documents. Some states protect incident reports from discovery, even after a suit has been filed. Be sure to let the attorney know what material you wish to have for your nursing expert review.
Why do I need to see the complaint?
The nursing expert should know what the plaintiff attorney alleged occurred in this case. This will help you focus the review.
Why do I need to see the opposing expert’s report?
It is essential to understand the opposing side’s expert’s position in order to determine if you disagree or disagree with this person’s The allegations of the opposing expert should be addressed in the report, refuting them with citations to depositions or medical records. The plaintiff’s nursing expert should focus on meaningful deviations, not inconsequential ones and is typically written before the defense expert’s report.
What do I do after I review the records?
Call the attorney with your opinion about the case. If your opinion is favorable, what you do next depends on your state and the stage of the suit, as well as whose side retained your services. If required by the state as a plaintiff’s expert, you may be asked to sign an affidavit of merit or write a report. A defense expert may also be asked to prepare a report. Preparation of a report may be postponed until the discovery has proceeded further. In some states, the attorney discusses your opinions with you and prepares a statement of your position. Do NOT put anything in writing with the conclusions of your nursing expert review unless asked to do so by the attorney.
How should I structure my report?
The report should be prepared on your letterhead which includes your name, address, phone number and email address. It should be set up as a business letter and contain:
• The date
• The name and address of the attorney who retained your services
• The name of the patient
• A summary of the medical facts
• A description of how the nurse adhered to the standard of care (if the report is written for the defense), or deviated from the standards of care (if the expert was retained by the plaintiff attorney).
Refer to the medical records and depositions to support your opinion.
May I comment in my report and testimony on the physician, as well as the nursing standard of care?
Although nurses are the preferred professionals to testify as to the nursing standards of care, the nursing expert witness is normally prevented from testifying about the medical standard of care. Courts usually hold that a nurse is not qualified to render an opinion about whether a physician is guilty of medical malpractice. For this reason, the nursing expert witness should refrain from commenting about the medical standard of care. Your report, in the summary of medical events section, should simply detail the chain of events that was involved in the medication error.
May I state in my nursing expert witness review report that the actions of the nurse caused the patient to be injured or die as a result of a medication error?
No, a nurse should ordinarily not be used to establish or refute causation.
What should I be checking for when I proofread the report?
It is essential to proofread the report before it is supplied to the attorney. When possible, allow a period of time to transpire before picking up the report to proofread. This enables you to see the material from a fresh perspective. Make sure names, dates, and details are correct. Be sure to look for words which the spell checker determines are correct, but are incorrect within the context of the report.
What do I do once I have proofread and finalized the report?
Make a copy of the report and send the original and your resume to the attorney. Hold onto the medical records unless asked to either return them to the attorney or dispose of them.
The nursing expert witness role is challenging and complex. Get more details about nursing expert witnesses cases by ordering a copy of How to Be a Successful Expert Witness. Learn the critical skills needed to be a terrific expert.