Legal Nurse Consultant & Medical Malpractice or Professional Negligence
An area where legal nurse consultants do a lot of work is medical malpractice, also called professional negligence. This legal specialty involves litigating cases where a patient claims to have been harmed by the medical care received from a healthcare professional. The healthcare provider can be anyone including doctors, nurses, and ancillary medical staff like interns. A legal nurse consultant who is able to screen medical malpractice cases and select the most viable ones is always in demand.
A malpractice case consists of four parts that must be proven for the plaintiff to prevail: the medical care provider must have had a duty to act, the person failed to act according to the standards of care, and that his or her failure caused harm to the patient. The fourth element is damages which are awarded if the court rules in the plaintiff’s favor. Many cases brought before attorneys have been dismissed because legal nurse consultants were able to identify that they had no merit. This saves the attorneys, courts, and clients time and money.
To help them determine if a case is worth pursing legally, LNCs must be able to search through medical literature to find medical guidelines and other information relevant to the case. This calls for having access to and being familiar with medical libraries, professional organizations, medical experts, and other resources. Medical malpractice cases often are decided on the strength of testimony from medical experts, so LNCs need to be able to search for and interview them.
In addition to these duties, a legal nurse consultant may work with the attorney on case strategy. The changes in tort law and the growth of the healthcare industry have made LNCs even more valuable to law offices.