A legal nurse consultant (LNC) is a licensed nurse who has experience with the legal system.
LNCs can render informed opinions regarding a patient’s injuries and the nursing and healthcare services the patient was provided. Legal teams frequently consult LNCs on matters involving medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, slip-and-falls, workers’ compensation, and elder abuse.
There are five primary ways LNCs can help attorneys win their next case: LNCs make sense of the medical records, understand the standard of care, pinpoint proximate cause, assess damages, and assist with case strategy development.
Attorneys pursuing any type of injury cases should consider connecting with a legal nurse consultant to assist with case preparations. With their clinical training, LNCs can effectively and efficiently aid any trial team. Accordingly, they consult and educate clients on specific medical and nursing issues in their cases.
LNCs can provide invaluable assistance to attorneys by reviewing the plaintiff’s medical records. Reviewing medical records is an involved process that requires scientific knowledge and specialized training. Records contain complex medical terminology, physician or operative notes, imaging, recommendations, etc. This language is foreign to most attorneys. Therefore, it can be challenging and time-consuming for attorneys to attempt review of medical records on their own. In addition, the more severe the injury or condition, the heftier the medical records. The plaintiff may have seen multiple physicians or visited several treatment centers. The plaintiff may also have been receiving treatment for a handful of conditions.
Legal nurse consultants can streamline this medical record review process for attorneys by acting as the attorney’s guide. Utilizing their clinical experience and familiarity with health care systems, LNCs can take attorneys through the records step by step. They can provide a comprehensive, easily-digestible summary of the medical issues at hand. An LNC can also flag any inconsistencies in the records and note whether critical documents are missing.
A legal nurse consultant can also evaluate whether the treating physician(s) adhered to the standard of care. An LNC may provide a report that chronicles points from the medical records or discuss issues with treatment. After reviewing the records, LNCs can opine on whether deviations from the standard of care contributed to the patient’s outcome.
A legal nurse consultant can help your legal team determine proximate cause. Proximate cause is the legal cause of an injury. Therefore, it is the incident that produces particular, foreseeable consequences without the intervention of any independent or unforeseeable cause. An LNC can identify factors that caused or contributed to the injuries by researching and summarizing the available literature. Additionally, a legal nurse consultant’s background enables them to distinguish pre-existing injuries from those arising from specific events. They will also understand causation and future ramifications of injuries and illnesses. This can quickly point a legal team to the proximate cause of the injury at issue.
Legal nurse consultants can also opine on whether all the elements are present for a viable medical case. In addition, LNCs can participate in interviews with potential clients and analyze medical records to determine the viability of the client’s claims. An LNC can attend the medical examinations of the client and conduct necessary medical research on particular issues. They can evaluate all of the evidence to form an opinion as to causation and damages, which can help develop the overall case theory and strategy. This saves attorneys valuable time, energy, and money.
A legal nurse consultant can be an invaluable resource throughout the litigation process. LNCs screen cases for merit, review medical records, research medical issues, prepare reports, and summarize the injuries sustained. But they can also assist with discovery and collaborate closely with testifying expert witnesses. The expert witness could be a psychology expert witness, an infectious disease and communicable disease expert witness, or a pharmacy expert witness. Altogether, their attention to detail, experience with the healthcare industry, familiarity with medical terminology, and medical expertise assist attorneys throughout the litigation process. A legal nurse consultant supplements an attorney’s knowledge. In other words, LNCs utilize their expertise on nursing and healthcare systems to achieve a favorable outcome for the client.