Yes, Plaintiff’s Counsel can Speak to your Former Employee!
Imagine your defendant hospital or practice has a former nurse employee with important factual knowledge of the case. Now imagine the plaintiff’s attorney reaches out to that nurse – without your knowledge or consent! Does a plaintiff’s attorney really have unfettered access to your former employees? Unfortunately, the answer is probably, “Yes.”
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to protect your hospital or practice where former employees are involved:
Talk to Former Employees. Remind them any communications they had with the hospital’s lawyers should not be revealed to anyone, but do not discuss the case with them;
Identify any statutory privilege over former employees. For example, under HIPAA, a former employee is not authorized to access a patient’s chart in the hospital or practice’s possession; and
Caution plaintiff’s counsel against discussing privileged information with former employees – this may dissuade him or her from speaking with your former employee outside your presence.
Bottom line: While you may not have the ability to stop any communication between the plaintiff’s lawyer and your former employee, observing the advice above may limit your exposure.