Legal Nurse Consulting is a fast growing field. Most legal professionals don’t understand medical terminology or know how to read medical records. The Legal Registered Nurse plays a powerful role in the litigation process to bridge the gap between the medical and legal fields. Legal Nurse Consultants are RNs offering information in medical-related cases to professionals and legal entities. Legal Registered Nurses can offer expert advice by identifying standards of care, preparing summaries and reports about illness or injuries and reviewing medical records.
Legal RN should have good communication skills and be detail-oriented. It is necessary to communicate accurate information to the legal professionals. Skills in conducting legal research using manual and computerized systems and report the results.
The work environment for a Legal RN or LNC consists of: law firms, insurance companies, hospital risk management departments and HMO’s, government offices, consulting firms, or an independent practice among others.
Responsibilities of the Legal Registered Nurse
Review medical records and search for medical and/or nursing issues relevant to a case, to help determine whether professional negligence occurred, to identify any missing or tampered records, summarize injuries and treatment. The medical records also offer the RN an insight into the healthcare provided to patient.
Educate Legal Colleagues. The Legal RN must decipher the case and then educate the attorneys in regard to the timelines, medical facts, treatments, nursing terminology and any other relevant healthcare information. The RN’s experience gives them the background to serve as the liaison between the attorneys, physicians and clients involved in a case or claim.
Investigation is key in the Legal arena. The Legal Registered Nurse must be a case investigator and provide services such as: conduct inquiries into potential misconduct on the part of a health care facility or practitioner, research compensation and disability claims to determine merit, examine cases involving abuse of government funded agencies, or fraud, including Medicaid and Medicare.
Preparation for Trial. If the case goes to trial, the Legal RN may prepare medical fact summaries and reports, timelines of medical events, graphic exhibits and other evidence. The RN may also draft questions for attorneys to use when deposing medical personnel, or interviewing parties involved in the case as well as preparing witnesses for trial.
The Legal RN may be called as an expert witness at trial to provide data, facts and opinion based on the evidence in the case. Legal nurses may also need to locate and retain other expert witnesses who may offer specialized knowledge relevant to circumstances of the case.
The Legal RN must first become a Registered Nurse by completing either a 2 or 4 year degree in nursing. Nurses can then go on to complete courses in legal terminology and the legal system, ethics, criminal law, informed consent, medical records and study cases of medical malpractice