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Expert Witnesses General Information Legal Definitions

Why Nurses Are Often Chosen to be Expert Witnesses

The role of nurses in the courtroom has expanded over the past few decades. It used to be that only physicians were called as medical expert witnesses, but there were significant problems with that in cases that involved nursing, nursing standard of care and medical malpractice involving a nurse. These days, it is not only common but encouraged to seek the services of a nurse expert witness when dealing with a nursing-related case, especially one involving the constant and ever-changing rules of standard of care and nursing practice. 

Read on to learn more about the role of nurses as expert witnesses, and how they may be able to benefit your case. 

Role Of An Expert Witness In A Medical Lawsuit

To understand the role of an expert witness in a medical lawsuit, you must first know the role of an expert witness in a court of law.

Unlike a witness to a crime, an expert witness is not someone who was present during the situation that is being discussed in court. Instead, an expert witness is someone whom a legal team hired because of their expertise and experience with the subject matter of the case. An expert witness provides their technical opinion and expertise for the court, explaining complicated situations in layman’s terms that the court can more easily understand. In this situation, a nurse expert witness will be able to explain such difficult and nuanced topics as nursing care and practice, medical jargon, etc. 

In addition, a nurse expert witness can also act as a consultant to the legal team who hires them, helping them parse through medical documents and draw conclusions that someone with no medical or nursing experience would be able to. For example, a nurse expert witness can help a legal team create a medical timeline for a patient, explain medical precedent for certain procedures, and possibly estimate the cost of care for a patient who has been injured by malpractice. 

What Kind Of Nurses Are Used As Expert Witnesses 

Nursing, like all medical professions, requires years of education and training. There are many different nursing and nursing adjacent careers that require lower levels of education and training, such as a Certified Nursing Assistant or a Licensed Practical Nurse. These careers are important to the medical industry but do not meet the qualifications to be a nurse expert witness. 

The minimum requirement to be a nurse is to be an RN, or Registered Nurse, which requires state licensure that must be unencumbered and regularly maintained in order to legally practice. Unlicensed nurses can face fines and possible jail time. 

A Registered Nurse has completed either an associate’s degree (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing or biology from an accredited university and has passed their state-required NCLEX examination. They must have received a license from the State Board of Nursing (BON.) 

A registered nurse is qualified to treat patients, diagnose conditions and prescribe medication, among other things. They often work closely with physicians and hospital staff in patient care and treatment, but they can also work independently under the care of a physician. 

But to be an Expert Witness in a medical case, the nurse in question must be highly qualified in both education and experience. After all, they are speaking from a place of expertise in nursing. Therefore, most nurse expert witnesses have higher levels of education in nursing, such as a Masters of Science in Nursing. This qualifies the nurse as an APRN or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.  

They may also seek other certifications that make them a valuable asset to court litigation– such as a post-master’s certification in forensic nursing. This education allows nurse expert witnesses to speak on possible causes of death and work with coroners to examine the deceased to draw educated conclusions on what they find. 

The highest degree available in nursing is a Doctorate of Nursing Practice, or DNP– making the nurse a doctor in nursing. This education is generally sought by those who have decades of clinical experience as a nurse and now wish to work in the high-level administrative side of nursing. DNPs are generally found on hospital boards and in other positions of nursing leadership due to their expertise in both the clinical aspects of nursing and nursing policy and practice. 

Where To Find The Best Nurse Expert Witness In Dallas TX

Those looking to find a qualified, educated nurse expert witness in Dallas Texas should consider the services of Medical Legal Experts in Dallas. Dr. McNew, DNP, has the experience needed to help your legal team in any medical lawsuit. Give us a call or check out our website today! 

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