Finding the Smoking Gun as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Is the Best Feeling Ever*
by Caryn “CJ” Jaffe, RN, CLNC
As a child, I had Lyme disease. Then in 2004, I was bitten by another tick. Terrible timing, since I’d just gotten married. My symptoms were across the chart, from severe fatigue to periodic paralysis on one side of my body. My husband couldn’t handle his wife not walking, not being perfect – so he left and we divorced. A couple of years later, I made it to an Iron Man finish line, so I guess the joke’s on him.
Meanwhile, however, my nursing career suffered. An IV therapy nurse walks about seven miles a day, and with Lyme disease I didn’t have the energy. In 2007 I still didn’t know if I’d ever be able to go back to bedside nursing. As a fallback career that I could do from home, becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant seemed like a good fit. If I could only do nursing part-time, I decided legal nurse consulting might be a good addition.
What amazes me most is the absolute feeling that this is where I should be. I’m ready to bill another $10,000. It’s almost overwhelming to think about, but I will easily make over $150,000 a year.
A friend who was a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant told me Vickie Milazzo Institute was the best. After reading everything I could find, I knew she was right, so I decided to go for it all the way. Every piece of the VIP CLNC Success System has proved beneficial.
After receiving my CLNC Certification, I immediately got a case. It came through a friend who, of all things, took flying-trapeze lessons with me. With the uncertainty of Lyme disease, I’ve learned to take my fun when and where I can manage it. Her husband was a medical malpractice and personal injury attorney, so I met with him and told him what I did.
“We have a case that I don’t think is meritorious,” he said, “but we’d like your professional opinion.” He was right, the case had no merit, but I made $500 in 20 minutes. I decided right then that, even though I was sick throughout the CLNC Certification Seminar, I’d made a great decision investing in Vickie’s program.
In 4,000 pages, I Found the Tiny Smoking Gun
Then, I got really lucky. An in-house Certified Legal Nurse Consultant for a law firm found me through the NACLNC Directory. The woman who called said, “If you would be interested in working as a testifying expert, send me your resume and fee schedule.”
Testifying expert? Again, completely out of my comfort zone, but I remembered from class that I could charge more as a testifying expert, and it sounded interesting, so I decided to go for it. I threw $225 an hour out there, and they didn’t balk. They overnighted the medical records and a retainer check.
Realizing this was the moment I’d been waiting for, I decided, I’m giving my all to this case. No matter what happens, whether they select me to testify or not, I’m going to walk away with my head high because I did it right.
This might sound silly, but I think a nurse should be able to feel important. In my last three or four jobs, I felt I had to cut corners, so I didn’t feel I was doing the excellent job I knew I was capable of. As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I don’t have to cut corners. My job is to be excellent and to find the smoking gun that no one else can see; the one little thing that makes the difference. Feeling this way is the greatest gift ever.
The case I was hired to consult on involves a six-year-old girl who died after her intestines were perforated by a nasoduodenal tube. Improper insertion, we figured, but the documentation was atrocious. The providers documented numerous times that the child had no pain when she died, but I wondered how that was possible. In trying to figure out the pain management (because the way it was laid out in the record made no sense), I created a table of all the child’s vital signs.
That’s when I found the one thing that would make all the difference in this case. The smoking gun was right there in front of our eyes, but so small it went unnoticed, on a single page of a 4,000-page medical record. I emailed the attorney, “You’re not going to believe what I found. The other side might want to settle after this.” He was bowled over. “How did you find that? It makes all the difference in this case.” Hearing his praise felt so good.
I Owe Everything to Vickie
What a fantastic ride this past couple of months has been. It’s proven to me that if I want to be excellent, being a CLNC consultant is where I can be excellent. There will be competition, but not like at the bedside where I felt ostracized for striving to do a good job. As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I contact another CLNC consultant and I get help wherever I need it. This is what the whole nursing profession should be. I’ve landed in the right place, and I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.
In the Past 6 Weeks, I’ve Made Twice What I Would Have Made in Bedside Nursing
When I sent the law firm my first bill for this case, $4,500, I wondered if they were going to flip out. But instead I received the check two weeks later. I was so estatic, I framed it.
Then the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant who had originally contacted me phoned. “The work’s just beginning,” she said. “My colleague, who is also a CLNC consultant, and the attorney and I are all impressed with your work product.”
What amazes me most is the absolute feeling that this is where I should be, this is what I should have been doing for the past seven years. I’m ready to bill another $10,000 for the work I’ve done on this case. It’s almost overwhelming to think about, but if my CLNC business continues like this, I will easily make over $150,000 a year.
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