“trial practices and legal issues based on civil and corporate
Prof. Charles: Discovery is the process of investigating the facts of a case before trial.
The objective of discovery to obtain information and facts and gather evidence about the case in preparation for trial. It is the principal fact-finding method in the litigation process.
Discovery rules were developed to prevent trial by ambush. To deny a party the right to know all witnesses to be called to testify before trial is an insult to this principle. A deposition is a discovery technique used by parties to learn more regarding the nature and substance of each other’s case.
Confidential communications made by a client and an attorney to one another are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Who can tell the class what the three elements required to successfully assert attorney-client privilege?
Donald: Professor Charles, the first element is both parties must agree that the attorney-client relationship does or will exist. The second is the client must seek advice from the attorney; and third, communications between the attorney and client must be identified to be confidential.
Prof. Charles: Impressive! Now, let’s discuss the role of the expert witness. The expert witness is one who is accepted by the court as having the training, skills, experience, and education to inform the jury and court on knowledge outside the experience of the average jury and court.
Casey: Just to be clear, is the expert qualified based on his/her training, skills, education, and experience in the technical issues or special knowledge areas concerning the facts of the case?
Prof. Charles: Yes and the expert witness’ qualifications to be an expert are explained to the court. When two experts in a trial disagree, the jury will decide which one to believe. The jury determines the facts in a case and makes a determination of the particular standards of conduct required in all cases in which the judgment of reasonable people might differ.
Now, let’s turn to the responsibilities of the healthcare corporation as well as legal risks. Most healthcare organizations operate as corporations, although some are sole proprietorships or partnerships. Generally, the authority of a corporation is expressed in the law under which the corporation is chartered and in the articles of incorporation. The existence of this authority creates certain duties and liabilities for governing boards of trustees or directors and their individual members.
Casey: So, the hospital Board has a responsibility to provide a safe environment for the patient?
Prof. Charles: Yes. The corporate negligence doctrine imposes on hospitals an implied duty to patients to select competent physicians, who, even though they are independent practitioners, would be providing hospital care to their patients though staff privileges.
The hospital assumes the duty of supervising the competence of its physicians. The hospital which does not supervise its physicians to prevent patient harm or injury is liable for corporate negligence. Ideally, the corporate body conducts its business and physician supervision through a variety of committees. Some of these committees are the Executive Committee, the Finance Committee, the Joint Conference Committee, and the Planning Committee.