Imagine that a client comes to you with a medical lawsuit to bring against a hospital. You listen to the case and think to yourself if this is true, then this will be one of the easiest cases in the world to win – the client was most obviously the victim of careless medical care. So, you figure that you’ll analyze the client’s medical records to get the proof that you need. But, you open up the medical record and then you realize one important, tiny little detail that you had previously forgot: you have no idea what any of it means.
This is when your law firm needs legal nurse consulting. Legal nurses help close cases by interpreting valuable medical information while acting as a legal assistant. They can interview plaintiffs and defendants, write up reports, and testify as expert witnesses in a courtroom setting. These types of nurses also understand the “business” side of medical delivery. Indeed, legal nurses are absolutely vital to any law firm that’s serious about winning their cases.
Consider the following example case. An elderly nursing home has a resident with many symptoms, including dementia, diabetes, CRF, and so on. This resident is, naturally, completely dependent on the nursing home to care for them. One day, a nursing assistant found a bruise on the patient and let the nurse know about it. Later that same day, the elderly resident passed away. The autopsy confirmed that the resident had fallen within a few hours of the elderly person’s death. When the family sued, a legal nurse who was called in to review the medical records cited a lack of any documentation regarding the bruise or fall. Both the home and the nurses were convicted of tampering with medical records and wrongful death. Due to the victory, aided in no small part by the legal nurse, the administrators are now serving 10-year jail sentences.
While it may be clear that legal nurse consulting is very beneficial to your law firm, many owners are concerned about the cost. Good legal nurses have been known to charge up to $150 an hour for their work. However, many are also willing to work in-staff for less than six figures. As such, if you’re a firm that has any thoughts of dealing with medical suits, you can’t afford to not dole out much of these responsibilities to a good legal nurse.
It’s also imperative that you hire/retain a good legal nurse. The designation of LNCC (Legal Nurse Consultant Certified) demonstrates that the candidate has at least five years of registered nursing experience, plus at least 2000 hours of legal nursing experience, and has passed a comprehensive exam that directly assesses many of the duties that legal nurse consulting entails. In addition, like many other professional certifications, this has to be renewed every five years, so you know that anyone holding a LNCC has more than adequate legal nurse consulting expertise. Indeed, while it is possible to take people who are just registered nurses and use them in a legal capacity, it’s much better to look for the LNCC designation. That way you know you are getting someone who has had a lot experience in both the medical setting and the legal one.