Litigation in Perinatal Care: The Deposition Process

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Abstract

Litigation in perinatal nursing represents a disproportionate share of indemnity payouts and results in excessive psychological stress. Testimony at deposition or trial can be challenging for clinicians; little is taught in training or postgraduate education regarding litigation. Nurses, midwives, and physicians can effectively navigate the deposition process and prepare for trial testimony by understanding the plaintiff's goals, recognizing the role of documentation, and becoming familiar with various plaintiff's strategies including reptile theory. Knowledge of psychological concepts such as confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance may assist clinicians in responding to plaintiff's lines of questioning. Deposition preparation is crucial to the defense and requires active participation on the part of clinicians; it may include mock deposition or use of simulation laboratories. Common mistakes in deposition may be avoided with foresight and anticipatory planning by clinicians working closely with risk managers and defense attorneys. This article provides an overview of the deposition process, including the plaintiff's goals and common approaches, as well as the role of documentation and common errors of deponents.

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