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Legal Nurse Consulting: Expert Witness

legal scales of justice Legal Nurse Consulting: The Nurse as Expert Witness


Exploring The Nurse As An Expert Witness

It is not unusual for an attorney to utilize a nurse as an expert witness when the malpractice issue involves another nurse. There was a time when the attorney would have sought this information from a physician, but times have changed, and many states have ruled that expert testimony about a nurse should come from a nurse. The need for expert nurse witnesses is growing, and the job is not as easy as some might expect. The requirements to be an expert witness are many, and the job responsibilities are even more demanding once received. Let us explore the journey to becoming a nurse as an expert witness.

 The Nurse

The registered nurse is a highly sought after profession that involves providing personal health care to patients in a wide range of health care applications. To be a nurse one must complete the educational requirements necessary for specific specialties and degrees. There are various levels of credentials that can be earned in nursing that cover some 200 areas of certification. The more credentials a nurse have the better should they desire to become an expert witness.

 The Nurse As An Expert Witness

Some believe that an Expert Witness Nurse must be credentialed as a Legal Nurse Consultant. However, the two are not necessarily the same. The legal nurse consultant may well be an expert nurse witness. But, conceivably, any nurse may serve as an expert witness in a malpractice case and deliver an expert opinion.  An expert witness must maintain all of their existing credentials, qualifications, and be clinically active at the time of testifying. It is best if the nurse is certified, and current on the most recent procedures and related information. The basic mission of the expert witness is to conduct a review of the case and decide if the case should be pursued.

Should witness testimony be required from the nurse, they would utilize their experience, training to provide a scientific and technical opinion on whether or not there were deviations in the heath care standards surrounding the issue involved. Some malpractice areas where the expert witness nurse might be required include falls, misuse of medication, bedsores, or any deviation in the nurses function of adhering to applicable health care standards.

The expert witness is often used to show that the patient was not protected because a colleague administered substandard care. They may also determine if charts were accurately filled out, and to report incompetence by the nurse involved in the issue.

 The Role Of A Nurse As An Expert Witness

The expert nurse will review all records associated with the medical issue in question, and then provide their professional opinion to the retained attorney, as to whether or not the given case should be pursued. This requires a great deal of research to ensure the expert can see all aspects of the case clearly. In most cases the expert will review the Administrative Code of the Board of Nursing for the state in which the issue occurred. Any pertinent information discovered by the expert witness should only be provided to the attorney on the case.

Many states ask that a Certificate of Merit be filed by the expert witness. This will be used by the state to determine if the case should be pursued. The expert will either need to deliver a written or oral report on their opinion. They may need to gather information involving the relevant standards regarding the issue in question. All information must be handled with care. Court decisions have been decided all too often because paperwork was mishandled or filing dates were not met. The expert must be prepared for extensive questioning on the stand in reference to their credentials and professional opinion.

It can easily be determined that the responsibilities of an nurse as an expert witness is not easy in any form or fashion. These expert witnesses can earn a lot of money for their efforts, but they develop a sound reputation for honesty, and sustain the credentials to back up their testimony. Whether they work for the defense or the prosecution, it is imperative that their homework has been done. A malpractice decision may very well rest on the expert opinion they provide.

Registered Nurses may learn more about doing expert witness work as well as legal nurse consulting by access information: click here.




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