Medical Malpractice for Healthcare Professionals
A subpoena compels a witness to provide a court with information or documents on a specific date, time and location. It is issued by an officer of the court (for example the registrar of the court) and is usually served (formally delivered) by the sheriff of the court.
The subpoena will state whether the witness must testify in person and whether specific documents must be made available to the court.
Asking for documents: Subpoena ducestecum (Latin phrase meaning “bring with you”). This subpoena requires you to produce documents or other tangible evidence for use at a hearing or trial. The first page of the subpoena will display a date before or on which you have to provide the documents or evidence.
Asking for testimony: Subpoena ad testificandum (Latin phrase for “to testify”). This subpoena demands you to appear in person and give oral testimony for use at a hearing or trial. The first page of this subpoena will display a date and time on which you have to appear at the court.
You only have to provide the documents or items that have been asked for and listed in the subpoena. The subpoena will tell you who, where and when to deliver the documents to (for example, the relevant attorney or prosecutor who requested the documents).
Don’t confuse a subpoena with a summons. A summons is a legal document that initiates a civil case or a criminal investigation against a particular defendant or accused while a subpoena is issued to a witness. Remember that you are obliged to comply with a properly issued and served subpoena unless the relevant attorney or prosecutor that issued the subpoena has agreed and confirmed in writing that you do not have to comply with it.
We will assist you by notifying the relevant insurer to check whether the claim is covered by the insurance contract.
When you receive a subpoena, consider if you have any exposure to a claim or complaint. Is there a chance that providing information to the attorney or prosecutor creates a potential risk to be sued yourself? We will discuss the possibility of exposure with you and advise you accordingly. Although you might just be a witness, we need to ensure that the situation is appropriately managed to avoid or minimize any risk to you.
We will confirm whether the subpoena is a subpoena duces tecum or ad testificandum. If it is a subpoena duces tecum, we will ask you to send us all the records in your possession so that we can assess them against the documents demanded in the subpoena before we deliver them to the requesting attorney or prosecutor. If it is a subpoena ad testificandum, we will appoint attorneys approved by the insurer to assist in preparing you for your testimony and to appear with you at court on the relevant day, if necessary.
Refer to the Natmed Glossary of Medical Malpractice and Insurance Terms for further clarity.
Administration: 0860 NATMED (628 633)