What Is a Legal Nurse Consultant?
A legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse who uses existing expertise as a healthcare professional plus specialized training to consult on medical-related cases at fees of $100-$150/hour. Few attorneys know how to read medical records or understand the terminology and subtleties of healthcare issues to achieve the best results for their clients. A legal nurse consultant bridges that gap in the attorney’s knowledge. While the attorney is the expert on legal issues, the legal nurse consultant is the expert on nursing, the healthcare system and its inner workings.
According to the Houston Chronicle, “Of the approximately 900,000* attorneys in practice today, 25 percent deal with medical malpractice and personal injury cases. ” These attorneys rely on specially trained legal nurse consultants to help them win their cases.
Who are Legal Nurse Consultants?
Legal nurse consultants live all over the U.S., rural or urban. Legal nurse consultants have consulted on cases as simple as a neck injury caused by an auto accident, as high-profile as the Rodney King case and as groundbreaking as Fen-Phen, Vioxx, silicone implants and toxic mold litigation.
Additionally, legal nurse consultants provide healthcare expertise for insurance companies, utilization review firms, government agencies, private corporations and hospitals both as staff members and consultants. The legal nurse consulting profession allows nurses many options for establishing a satisfying and profitable part-time or full-time consulting career.
What services do Legal Nurse Consultants Provide?
Legal nurse consultant services include assisting with discovery; conducting research; reviewing medical records; identifying standards of care; preparing reports and summaries on the extent of injury or illness; and locating expert witnesses. Although most legal nurse consultants work behind the scenes, they may also serve as expert witnesses. The legal nurse consultant acts as a specialized member of the litigation team whose professional contributions are often critical to achieving a fair and just outcome for all parties.
Types of Clients Who Need Legal Nurse Consultants
1. Attorneys (plaintiff and defense)
2. Insurance companies
3. Healthcare facilities
4. Other legal nurse consultants and medical-legal consultants (plaintiff and defense)
5. Government agencies
6. Private corporations (e.g., for developing corporate strategies for quality assurance, risk identification and management, evaluation and control of loss exposure)
* According to the American Bar Association Market Research Department, in 2005 there are 1,104,766 attorneys in the U.S.