Finding the best legal nurse consultant for your nursing home malpractice case can be the difference between winning and losing. A Legal nurse consultant plays a vital role in any medical malpractice case.
When a family moves an elderly loved one into a nursing home or an assisted living facility, everyone always hopes for the best. They want their aging relative to receive excellent care and to be treated well. If the resident needs daily medication, family members want to believe the meds will be dispensed appropriately, and their loved one will be monitored for signs of any health changes.
Mistakes Can and Do Happen
Healthcare professionals want to treat their patients well and without error; however, mistakes can and do happen. It’s an unfortunate reality in life and is especially dangerous in the healthcare industry. Sometimes it’s a minor blunder with no lasting harm. Other times its continuous abuse or blatant malpractice and the professional staff or doctors need to be held accountable for their mistakes. Because when a medical professional is at fault, patients and their families want to seek justice for their pain and suffering.
As an attorney, you often bring abuse, neglect, and medical malpractice suits to court. However, with the addition of adding a Legal Nurse Consultant to your legal team, their expertise will help discover and explain the technical, medical aspects of the case and help the judge or jury determine what happened and who, if anyone, was at fault.
Legal Nurse Consultants – What Are They?
A Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) performs a critical analysis of medically related issues in the legal arena and is also a licensed registered nurse. The nurse expert, because of his or her strong educational foundation and years of experience, is hired to assess a medical professional’s or a nursing home’s adherence to standards and guidelines of practice as it applies to managing residents and patients.
A Legal Nurse Consultant is essential to help patients and their families find justice and assist the attorneys in winning their case. These consultants aid in analyzing reports, identifying standards, offer their medical knowledge and give expert testimony in court. LNCs also retrieve and review medical records, screen cases for merit, interpret and analyze data, create demonstrative evidence, and serve as an attorney’s liaison.
When accessing patient negligence, Legal RN’s help attorneys determine the standards of care and whether they were – or were not – met. Often, the consultants will assist in investigating the legal suit and help the attorney and family decide whether proper attention or caution was given or if the staff member deviated from standard medical procedures and care. The LNC can help determine what issues and facts the suit should include.
A Legal Assistant or Paralegal Does Not Qualify as a Legal Nurse Consultant
The duties and qualifications of a Legal Nurse Consultant are very different than those of a paralegal or legal assistant. According to the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC), the position of a Legal Nurse Consultant is a nursing specialty. It should not be considered a subcategory of paralegals or legal assistants. The AALNC explains that lawyers often consult people in other industries for their expertise in many of their legal cases. Therefore, in medical care and nursing home legal cases, nurse consultants provide their expertise.
These nurse consultants usually have advanced degrees in the nursing field, along with additional specialized training in the law, business, etc. Here are some legal nurse consultant responsibilities that help distinguish this position from other legal careers:
• Locate, identify, and evaluate experts and witnesses in the healthcare industry. Interview or depose them.
• Contact relevant providers to obtain price information or evidence for medical care, supplies, and equipment.
• Work on strategies with attorneys and any others involved and write related legal documents.
• Work with legal professionals on the resolution of healthcare-related litigation.
• Provide expert knowledge about the medical issues and facts of the case.
• Research and apply the medical practices, guidelines, regulations, and standards relevant to the claim.
• Analyze, review, and summarize related legal and medical documents to support or disprove the various allegations.
• Evaluate the causation of damages related to the liability of the parties involved.
Some of the work that Legal Nurse Consultants do can sometimes overlap into the territory of paralegals and legal assistants, leading to some confusion about their roles. However, it is essential to point out that legal nurse consulting is significantly different than and is considered separate from these other positions.
How Do You Choose the Right Legal Nurse Consultant?
Sometimes people make mistakes, and even healthcare professionals are allowed to make errors. However, if that mistake happens because something they did deviates from the standard of care, then these nurses, doctors, other professionals, and even the nursing home itself can and should face legal consequences.
So how do you find the best Legal Nurse Consultant to help you with your case?
If you are an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse and other healthcare malpractice, you need a Legal Nurse Consultant at your side. Their unique combination of legal and medical knowledge and experience in the field of nursing and nursing homes makes them an asset to every case. When hiring a consultant, look for these three attributes:
- Knowledge: In addition to a formal education in Nursing, a Legal Nurse Consultant has typically worked in the medical field for several years. Working in this field for years helps build a storehouse of knowledge about the healthcare industry. He or she can use this information to identify weaknesses and strengths in claims and cases, assist with court strategy, and clearly explain complex concepts to the family and on the witness stand so that the average person (or juror) will understand.
2. Access to Resources: Legal Nurse Consultants typically have many contacts in various aspects in the field of medicine. He or she can then draw upon these contacts for additional assistance and information.
3. Experience: Nurses who work as Legal Consultants have a strong and widespread medical background that includes an extensive amount of healthcare education and clinical experience. Because of continuing education classes, programs, and certifications, they can give expert advice on medical-legal issues and easily interpret healthcare documentation.
Additional Qualities to Look for In a Legal Nurse Consultant
These specialized consultants help with medical malpractice cases, which can also be called professional negligence, to bring legal charges. When a claim is brought before a judge, the consultant assists in prosecuting the case.
Beyond the three other qualifications above, there are several additional qualities a good Legal Nurse Consultant should have. Before hiring someone, be sure to ask these questions. They are (in no particular order):
• Do you have a solid nursing education? Where did you go to college?
• Are you certified as a Legal Nurse Consultant?
• Do you have experience as a Legal Nursing Consultant? Where have you worked? For how long?
• Do you belong to any local or national professional organizations? Which ones?
• How many years of clinical experience do you have in your field of medicine? What nursing homes did you work for? How many years were you there?
• Did you complete a legal education program? Which one? How long ago?
• Are you taking continuing education classes in the legal field?• Do you have strong interpersonal and written and oral communication skills? Are you confident that you can explain complicated medical information to the average listener?
According to the AALNC (the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants), the most critical responsibility of a Legal Nurse Consultant is to analyze the available medical information and evidence. They then deliver an informed and educated judgment about the quality of medical care given to the resident. They also comment on the outcome resulting from their care.
What is Considered Medical Malpractice?
When a patient or a family member claims that the patient has been permanently or temporarily harmed due to the medical care – or lack thereof – he or she received, a qualified LNC can verify and corroborate their testimony. This inadequate care could be from any healthcare professional, including nurses, doctors, aids, or additional staff such as interns, volunteers, physical therapists, etc. There is a wide variety of errors that are considered medical malpractice, according to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA). Some of these errors include the nature of the injury; other errors occur due to failure to comply with the industry standards. For example, was this injury caused by someone’s negligence? Was it a one-time incident, or was it ongoing and significant abuse?
Here are a few additional examples of malpractice:
• Improper testing
• Unnecessary surgery
• Improper medication or dosage
• Poor aftercare
• Failure to recognize symptoms
• Failure to diagnose or to misdiagnose
• Misread lab results
• Surgical errors
• Premature discharge of the patient • Reporting or charting improper or incorrect patient information
It is the breach of contract and a failure to comply within a certain standard of care that essentially defines medical malpractice. Your Legal Nurse Consultant can help you determine what happened and what charges, if any, can be filed.
The History of Malpractice
Interestingly, the history of malpractice goes back to the very beginnings of the United States. In the 1700s, a man sued a doctor because his wife died while undergoing surgery. The man was awarded 40 British pounds.
In the US, more than 225,000 people pass away from some type of malpractice every year. A study in 2002 showed that at least 195,000 deaths occurring in US hospitals could have been prevented. The numbers are growing every year.
These are alarming statistics. However, only 2% file a claim against the healthcare industry regarding their injury. In truth, some cases may not be the healthcare provider’s error at all. However, there are many more instances where medical failure or malpractice did cause suffering or death. These statistics show the urgent need for individuals and families to find the right medical and legal assistance in proving their cases. Hiring Legal Nurse Consultants can play a massive part in winning the cases for these patients and families.
Choose the Right Legal Nurse Consultant with Verger Group
When meeting with a client, your law firm will assess if the injury occurred because medical standards were not being followed. If there is a plausible case, an investigation ensues. In these types of neglect or abuse cases, the patient’s age, the extent of the injury, and many additional facts are calculated.
By adding a Legal Nurse Consultant from Verger Group to your team, you will have an expert with a successful track record of winning cases with more than twenty years of experience. Verger Group consultants have served attorneys with cases awarding $26M+.
Three Gold Standards
Three gold standards are asked of each Verger Group Consultant:
Professionalism – Each of our LNCs currently works in the nursing industry. Everyone has a minimum of fifteen years of experience in their respective fields and are also required to attend continuing education classes.
Impartiality – Our LNCs are astute and able to serve both Defense and Plaintiff attorneys. Concerning all parties involved, our experts will not work for anyone they are related to or somehow connected to.
Discretion – Verger Group is serious about confidentiality, security, and keeping all client information private by investing in safeguards.
Contact Verger Group when you have a nursing home or assisted living malpractice case and are looking for expert assistance.
Verger Groups’ mission is for every attorney or law firm specializing in nursing home or assisted living neglect or abuse to think of us when a case requires an expert witness or help from a legal nurse consultant. We believe that we play a pivotal role in the outcome of litigation cases and can be an essential and supportive partner in your next medical malpractice case.