Witness interviews must be strategic


When conducting investigations into adverse events risk managers need to plan their interactions carefully in order to get the facts they need. That is the view of David Herzer, an attorney with Norman Hanson DeTroy, who will be giving a talk on the subject at the 23rd New England Healthcare Risk Management Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire on May 20.

“Risk managers have to think not only about the substance of what they’re addressing but how they’re going to go about investigating it,” he said. “There has to be as much thought put into who you are going to talk to, where you are going to talk with them, and whether to do it individually or in a group. Investigations are probably as affected by your strategy and approach to getting the information as it is by your study and knowledge of the substance.”

Herzer says risk managers need to avoid what he calls the “being hauled into the principal’s office” effect.
“If you have an employee come down to your office as a risk manager you’re going to get a witness who’s nervous, and who’s not going to be as forthcoming as a witness who’s more comfortable.”

He added that once you get the required information from an employee, it is important to take steps to protect that information.

“You can give them a synopsis of the discussion that you had with them and have them sign their agreement that it’s accurate. Later, if because of failing memories or agendas or whatever they try to change things, you’ve at least got something that indicates that at one point in time what they told you was accurate.”

Strategy, witness interviews, New England Healthcare Risk Management Conference, risk management, risk manager