Win Your Case with a Legal Nurse Consultant
By Terri Ferguson
Rely on the same people doctors rely on: nurses! A legal nurse
consultant can save time and money, thus giving an attorney the time to focus
on other issues of a case or to obtain new clients.
Reviewing a medical record can be a complex and confusing
task. Legal nurse consultants are experts because they perform this task every
day, down to the smallest detail. They have the ability to weed through a medical
record and find the issues that are relevant to the case.
is a legal nurse consultant? Legal nurse consultants (LNC) are experienced
Registered Nurses who can assist attorneys by screening, investigating and
developing any case in which health, illness or injury is an issue. LNCs
use their experience and acquired knowledge and understanding of medical,
nursing and health-related issues to help educate the attorney. They know
the inner workings of the healthcare system, thus making them knowledgeable
about the current standards of care and the various regulations to which
healthcare workers and their employers must adhere. LNCs can provide the
attorney with reports and visual aids, which will educate the attorney on
medical, nursing and health-related issues. These visual aids, in turn, can
also be used to instruct a jury on the complex medical issues of the case.
types of cases can an LNC work on? An LNC is qualified to consult on
any case in which health, illness or injury is an issue. These include Medical
and Nursing Malpractice, General Negligence, Products Liability, Toxic Tort
and Environmental Cases, Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Injury
Cases, and Criminal Cases. Evaluation of a claim requires a thorough knowledge
of acute care, medical terminology, pharmacology, medical records, diagnostic
techniques, surgical procedures and other health-related issues.
is the difference between a consulting expert and a testifying expert? A
consulting expert is not expected to testify but consults with the attorney-client
behind the scenes, preps the lawyer and helps the lawyer develop the case.
The consultant can review and analyze all aspects of the case. There are
no limitations on the scope of consultation. A consultant’s work product
is generally not discoverable. It is treated as the attorney’s own
A testifying expert is expected to testify at deposition
or trial. The expert’s testimony is limited to areas of personal professional
expertise. The expert’s work product is generally discoverable. Testifying
experts should be active in the healthcare setting to lend credibility to their
opinions. [Note: Prior to hiring an expert, make it clear up front whether
you are looking to hire a consultant or a testifying expert.]
services can an LNC provide for you? A legal nurse can organize, tab
and paginate medical records; screen or investigate medical malpractice cases
for merit; summarize, translate and interpret the medical records; and identify
and recommend potential defendants. A legal nurse can also obtain expert
witnesses that will testify for you in deposition or trial. In addition,
legal nurse consultants educate attorneys on medical facts and issues, research
medical literature, and assist in the preparation of pleadings and discovery.
already have a paralegal (or a nurse paralegal) in your office, so why hire
an LNC? A legal nurse provides medical (consulting experts only) and
nursing opinions as the expert on health, illness and injury and on the inner
workings of the healthcare system. The legal nurse focuses on the medical
aspects of the case, thereby allowing your paralegal/nurse paralegal to focus
on the legal aspects. This is a win-win relationship.
already have a physician expert to review cases, so why hire an LNC? Does
the physician assist you with analyzing the nursing issues of the case? Does
he or she review all of the ancillary departments’ involvement? A legal
nurse will look at all of the details in the medical record and will be more
cost-effective. However, utilizing the services of both a Physician and a
Legal Nurse will provide you with the best result.
should you hire a legal nurse to perform your medical research? Legal
nurses are able to weed out any irrelevant information. They are also able
to apply the information to the specific case they are working on, thus being
more cost-effective. They are able to find authoritative texts, and can assess
any visual aids for accuracy.
Terri Ferguson, RN, BSN, CLNC, is the CEO and Owner of ConFer Consulting,
a Medical-Legal Consulting Firm.