Legal Nurse Roles & Medical Malpractice Cases
The job market for certified legal nurse consultants continues to prosper with opportunities as the number of attorneys grows. Legal nurse consultants are relied upon to provide their expertise on various cases involving matters such as medical malpractice, injuries sustained in automobile accidents, and other legal issues.
Legal nurse consultants work within a variety of contexts and environments, including:
- Consulting firms
- Government offices
- Hospital risk management departments and HMOs
- Insurance companies
- Independent practices
- Law firms
- Legal Nurse Consultant Tasks and Responsibilities
Depending on the context, legal nurse consultants are tasked with a variety of responsibilities ranging from investigative clerical work to testifying as an expert witness in court. Below are descriptions of some of the roles that legal nurse consultants are responsible for.
1. Reviewing Medical Records
Relying on their training and expertise, legal nurse consultants spent time carefully poring over medical records as they summarize injuries, treatments, and other important facts, try to identify signs of missing or tampered records, or determine if there is validity to any claims of purported negligence.
2. Educating Colleagues
Attorneys and other professionals rely heavily on legal nurse consultants to educate them on medical facts, treatments, timelines, medical terminology, and other types of healthcare information. They also often serve as liaisons between the many parties involved in a case, as they can bridge the gap and keep everyone on the same page with their specialized expertise.
3. Case Investigations
As a case investigator, a legal nurse consultant might be responsible for digging up information on potential compensation and disability outcomes to determine the merit of a claim, inquire with the appropriate institutions to determine if misconduct on the part of a healthcare professional took place, and investigate claims of fraud or abuse on behalf of government organizations.
There are cases that inevitably go to trial. In these instances, legal nurse consultants may be asked to prepare medical fact reports, exhibits with graphs and relevant data, chronologies of how a medical event progressed, and anything else that could be deemed as evidence. They are also instrumental in helping attorneys draft effective questions that can be used during dispositions, testimonies, and other interviews.
5. Testifying as an Expert Witness
Legal nurse consultants may be called upon attorneys to provide testimony as an expert witness in the form of data, facts, and opinion based on the evidence that is present. They are also tasked with identifying and locating other expert witnesses who can provide their own insight and specialized knowledge when relevant to the case.