Legal nurse consultants are Registered Nurses (RNs) who work alongside lawyers and legal teams as expert witnesses for trials. They are utilized in medical cases, such as slips and falls, medical malpractice, and workers’ compensation.
Using a nurse as a medical expert witness was once a novel idea, but the career path has grown since the eighties. These days many law firms retain legal nurse consultants as a cost-effective way to boost a medical case.
A legal nurse consultant can assist in many cases, such as a death in which foul play is suspected. They can also be utilized as consultants by medical malpractice insurance companies and medical error prevention efforts. Because an RN is qualified to review, diagnose and treat conditions as well as prescribe medication, they can also be helpful in cases involving pharmaceuticals.
How Does A Legal Nurse Consultant Help A Legal Team?
A Legal Nurse Consultant can help a legal team in many different ways. A Legal Nurse will have both the legal and medical know-how to review patient files and records, such as employment, disability records, X-rays, etc. With this information, they can create a medical chronology, as well as a thorough case analysis. This allows the legal team to describe complex medical information to the court in terms they could understand, which is crucial to winning a case.
In addition to case and record analysis, a legal nurse consultant can help a legal team evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case from a medical standpoint. A nurse with many advanced degrees in nursing is especially useful to a team dealing with medical malpractice, as the nurse can guide the jury through the standards of care and practice in nursing with the utmost expertise.
A legal nurse consultant can also educate on the specifics of medical affairs, and help determine a client’s future medical needs, and estimate costs for both long and short-term medical care. A legal nurse consultant can either work during the pre-trial preparations, testify at trial as an expert witness, or both.
Legal Nurse Consultant Qualifications
To protect the general public, all medical professionals must have specific qualifications and licensure provided by government-approved entities. Legal Nurse consultants must have the qualifications and experience required to present themselves as an expert in their field.
Education and Licensing
To qualify as a Legal Nurse Consultant one must first be a Registered Nurse. This means they have either an associate’s degree (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing. They also must pass the NCLEX examination.
A Legal Nurse Consultant must have a nursing license from a legitimate government licensing agency, such as the State Board of Nursing (BON). Their nursing license should be up to date and unencumbered.
Legal Nurse Consulting is a competitive field, and the more expertise and qualifications a Legal Nurse Consultant has the more weight their opinion will carry in a legal setting. For this reason, many Legal Nurse Consultants continue their education and get higher degrees such as a Master’s of Science in Nursing, making them Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.
The highest degree in nursing is a Doctorate of Nursing Practice or DNP. Nurses with a DNP are often sought after as Legal Medical Consultants because they typically work in health policy, and nurse management and hold positions on hospital boards.
Many RN’s hoping to become Legal Nurse Consultants also pursue a post-master’s certificate in forensic nursing. A certificate in forensic nursing allows them to work with coroners to assess the cause of death, especially in cases of suspected homicide and abuse. They also use their expertise to identify victims of traumatic crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence.
As important as education is, it must work in tandem with experience to provide an ideal medical-legal consultant. It is recommended that a Legal Medical Consultant have several years of clinical experience as an RN before pursuing a legal career. This gives the person a chance to utilize their academic knowledge and hone their nursing skills.
In addition, nurses who have risen through the ranks in their work setting are more credible when discussing things like nursing practice and policy.
Legal Medical Consulting
For the best legal medical consulting in Dallas, Texas consider Legal Medical Consulting. Established by Dr. McNew, who has a Doctorate of Nursing Practice, and is a Certified Executive Nurse Professional (CENP) from the American Organization of Nurse Leaders. With over 34 years of experience, Legal Medical Consulting has the expertise your legal team can rely on.