Help improve quality of care with legal nurse consulting

Legal nurse consulting enables those working in the field to synthesize experience from the legal and nursing worlds. A legal nurse consultant (LNC) is a registered nurse who serves as a liaison between attorneys, medical practitioners and patients in a variety of contexts including medical malpractice litigation, medical licensure investigations and personal injury lawsuits.

LNCs can practice in a variety of professional environments — law firms, government offices, consulting firms, hospital risk management departments and independent practice are a few of the most popular settings. LNCs seeking flexibility also have the opportunity to work as independent consultants.

Daily LNC duties can include reviewing and analyzing medical records; researching and summarizing medical documentation; assisting with discovery and depositions; case exhibit preparations; and selecting expert witnesses.

Though LNCs work closely with legal professionals, the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants clarifies that LNCs are primarily nurses working within a "specialty practice of the nursing profession.”  Because of this, LNCs are not required to have a legal education, but rather legal knowledge is accrued through practical work experience gained providing assistance to legal professionals.

Teresa Downie, RN, LNC, told Clinical Advisor that she enjoys performing chart audits to help hospitals and other healthcare facilities with risk-management. She added that aiding organizations avoid frivolous lawsuits is rewarding. “It's not just about working with attorneys. Legal nurse consulting can be about helping facilities improve the quality of care patients receive.”

Medical malpractice lawsuits are increasing in frequency, and the demand for LNCs is currently at an all-time high — attorneys depend on LNCs to explain the medical aspects of these cases.

Jennifer Leeper is a freelance medical writer living in Kansas City, Mo.

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