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The Role of The Legal Nurse Consultant

By: Sylvia Bradford

a stethoscope and a court room gavelWhenever some medical-related litigation cases occur, it is often the job of the legal nurse consultant to work hand in hand with attorneys to be able to review and evaluate the case. They usually deal with medical and nursing malpractice, personal injuries or almost any medically-related case which calls for a sufficient medical knowledge from the field. But before anything else, perhaps you might be wondering what these legal nurse consultants are and what they tend to do for a living. To provide insight into their practice, let us take some time to understand this practice specialty.

A legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse and will be the one to perform such tasks as critical analysis of clinical and administrative practice and deal with any other healthcare issues. They act as the bridge between the medical and legal system. They often possess professional insight in both health and medical aspects and legal guidelines at the same time. However, you have to take note that these consultants are nursing experts and not merely paralegals. That is, they specialize more on the field of nursing and health care and are often considered to be experts in these fields.

 What are the roles of a legal nurse consultant?

There are indeed a lot of important roles of the legal nurse consultant. To provide you with a deeper understanding of the various important roles that a legal nurse consultant plays, let us review them.


1. Reviewing and Researching Medical Records

Medical records are among the most important things to consider in any medical-related case. As legal nurse consultants, it is their responsibility to review and research medical records which are relevant to the case. This will help in determining the type of medical negligence as well as to identify any medical records which might possibly have been missing or else tampered. The medical records in turn will also provide the legal nurse consultant additional knowledge regarding the type of service being provided to the client. They will often develop time-lines for the incident of care in question so that attorneys may better understand the process of care and determine issues of negligence.


2. Investigation and Thorough Analysis of the Case

It is very vital for a legal nurse consultant to make several investigations and analysis of a particular case. Being a case investigator, there are in fact a lot of services which a legal nurse consulting should be able to provide to his/her clients. These may include such services as the investigation of any fraud within the government funded agencies and also researching whether or not the victim is applicable for compensation and claims. They particularly focus on standards of care related to the case they are working on. They provide expert analysis on defining the appropriate standards of care and assisting the legal team to identify the types of testifying experts to call into the case for deposition and trial testimony to support allegations of deviations from standards of care.


3. Expert Witness Testimony

Attorneys frequently hire legal nurse consultants to provide actual expert witness testimony. In such cases, the legal nurse will provide a deposition and actually testimony in trials. In these cases, the legal nurse may only testify to deviations from standards of nursing practice and not issues of medical standards of care. They may be retained to provide testimony for either defendants or plaintiffs. Their testimony can be invaluable to the outcomes of such cases.


4. Deposition and Trial Consultant

It will be somewhat challenging for an expert attorney doing all of the tasks themselves regarding a particular case. That is why retaining a legal nurse consultant can be extremely beneficial. Legal nurses assist in the preparation of depositions for trial. They assist attorneys in developing appropriate questions to ask in depositions related to the medical and/or nursing aspects of the case. They are frequently seen with the attorney’s team in the court room during a malpractice or personal injury trial.


5. Research and Education

One of the primary roles of the legal nurse is to conduct extensive research for the legal team. Along with this role they also function as primary educators for the legal team. They will review and study many sources of standards of care and then educate the team on how the standards related to the case in question. They teach the legal team the meaning of important medical terms related to the case as well. The legal nurse is the health care expert on the team and her/his knowledge and research and teaching abilities are central to the legal team pursuing a litigation or a defense.

Where do they Practice?

There are many areas that legal nurse consultants practice in today. Some include the following:

In their own practices as independent contractors

In legal firms

In hospital risk management departments

In personal injury and malpractice insurance organizations

In nursing education and staff development

In government agencies

In firms specializing in trial consulting

In legal research departments

The role of the legal nurse consultant isn’t just an ordinary practice. It is a high-level practice that merges the legal world with the health care world. Over the years more and more registered nurses are choosing to enter this specialty practice. While the stress in this position is very high, the rewards and economic benefits can be excellent. Do you want more comprehensive¬† information about legal nurse consulting? Access here

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