When the plaintiff's attorney calls

March 7, 2008

One of my patients has sued the hospital where I attended him. His lawyer wants to ask me some questions about the case. I haven't been named as a defendant. Should I talk with the attorney?

One of my patients has sued the hospital where I attended him. His lawyer wants to ask me some questions about the case. I haven't been named as a defendant. Should I talk with the attorney?

Definitely not. First of all, such a conversation would likely violate your duty of confidentiality, which prohibits a doctor from divulging information about his patients. But even if your patient gives you written permission to discuss his case, you still shouldn't talk with his lawyer. You may reveal something that will lead the attorney to name you in the suit too, and anything you told him could be used against you.

If the attorney needs information, let him present a court-ordered subpoena. Then your insurer will provide an attorney to accompany you to the deposition and protect your interests.