Incident reports may or may not be privileged information

AORN J. 1990 Mar;51(3):851-2, 854. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2092(07)66632-0.


Whether incident reports are discoverable depends on the purpose of the reports and the laws of the state where the reports are filed. Subtle differences in state laws and/or how reports are used can make major differences in the determination. These differences are for hospital attorneys to study and consider. In addition to anticipating litigation, hospitals may use incident reports to promote hospital safety and prevent general losses. The hospital, not the nurse, decides if incident reports will be used in a manner more likely to protect the reports from discovery or if protection from discovery is of less concern (either because of state law or corporate philosophy). These decisions will determine how the forms are printed, when reports should be filed, what information is required, how many copies are made, and to whom the copies are distributed. Perioperative nurses need only follow the facility's policy and procedure for completing and filing incident reports. If the hospital attempts to protect reports from discovery, it is especially important that the procedure be followed precisely.

MeSH terms

  • Hospital Administration
  • Humans
  • Malpractice*
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Operating Room Nursing
  • Public Policy
  • Risk Management / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Risk Management / methods
  • Truth Disclosure*