Is it legal for a hospital to withhold information that could implicate the nursing supervisor in a medical malpractice suit?
Dear Nancy replies:
Your question is a little vague so it is difficult to understand exactly what you are asking. Some general comments can be made, however.
Intentionally withholding information during any aspect of a filed case is neither ethical nor legal. For example, as you are probably aware, testimony given during the case, whether in a deposition or at trial, is done under an oath to tell the truth. If it is discovered that someone who testified lied, they can be charged with perjury. Moreover, if the person was instructed to lie by an attorney, the attorney could be disciplined by the commission or board that licenses and disciplines attorneys in that state.
In addition, a state’s civil rules of practice and procedure govern discovery of documents, potential witnesses and so forth. Again, intentionally withholding information that is required to be produced or information required to be given can result in legal and ethical difficulties for any persons, including attorneys, who do so.
Do keep in mind that because both parties in a lawsuit are most often represented by an attorney, it is the attorney’s job to ensure that all questions that would lead to information about the subject of the case are asked and that any documents that might lead to information about the subject of the case are requested pursuant to the applicable rules and procedures. As a result, if an attorney is not doing his job, it could be information key to the case is not asked about or discovered.
If you are involved in the case in your question, it would be essential for you to truthfully answer any questions asked of you, and through your attorney, to produce any and all documents you are asked to produce. It never pays to lie or intentionally withhold information in any legal proceeding.