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Nursing Reports - Advice to Panels from Regional Tribunal Judges

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Advice on whether the report author should give oral evidence, and on matters about which it is appropriate for nurses to give evidence. Issued 23/2/09.

The advice

1. Does the actual author of the nursing report have to attend the hearing or is another health professional acceptable?

Yes if at all possible, though we must recognize that the shift patterns of nurses may at times render this impractical. Where for a good reason it is not possible for the report author to attend, to avoid delay another nurse should attend, and speak to the report.

2. What questions should normally be posed to nurses, and what questions normally should not?

As a general rule, questions should be confined to the issues contained in the report i.e. patient’s attitude to treatment, current observation levels, details of any seclusion or restraint imposed upon patient, any abuse of leave, and any violent incidents. The nurse should also be encouraged to relate the positive as well as any negative feature of patient’s progress on the ward. Although at times it might be helpful and necessary to move outside the confines of the issues in the report, questions should always be confined to the nursing aspects of the patient's treatment. It is not appropriate normally for nurses to be involved in diagnostic matters.

Prof. Jeremy Cooper