For the first time in my memory nurses are getting laid off in significant numbers. The deteriorating health of our economy is affecting almost every U.S. job – this includes nursing. But as I am hearing from the registered nurses I’ve trained, a career as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant is a recession-proof choice.
My sincere gratitude to Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC for taking the time to talk with me about how the economy has affected the health of her CLNC® business. Dale has been a CLNC® consultant since 1999 and specializes in medical malpractice, bad faith insurance and general personal injury.
How is today’s economic climate affecting your CLNC® business?
Dale: Vickie, I’m here to tell you working with attorneys is recession proof. I’m busier than ever. Everything a CLNC® consultant does is related to medical issues and healthcare, and those cases are still pouring in. During a tough economy, some people look at a lawsuit as another revenue stream. So attorneys are busy. Even when I tell my attorney-client, “There’s no merit here,” I still get paid, plus it keeps non-meritorious cases out of the system.
Are new attorneys approaching you?
Dale: Just last week a new attorney called and hired me as a legal nurse consultant for his bad faith insurance case. When people are financially strapped, an insurance claim becomes an asset. The claimant expects the insurance company to cover everything so when a claimant feels undercompensated or cheated, they call an attorney.
What other kinds of medical-related cases are you seeing?
Dale: Everything. I just finished a large home care defense case. A man’s wife had multiple sclerosis, and he was her sole caregiver, refusing to have anyone else in their house. Over the years, as his wife’s health deteriorated, the home care nurses noted that he was noncompliant with instructions for his wife’s care. He wouldn’t turn her every two hours, as directed, and she got one decubitus ulcer after another. She had a Foley catheter for a time and got a urinary tract infection. When she finally turned septic and died, the husband filed a suit, claiming that the wound care supplies the nurses used had caused her infection. This was off base, but the case went on and on. He was obviously trying to make a buck. I helped the defense put together a strong case, and the husband struck out.
You must have felt like a CLNC® champion on that case.
Dale: Absolutely. I had another case recently that involved using restraints on a hospital patient. The nurses had orders to use restraints but decided not to. The woman fell out of bed, suffered a subdural hematoma and died. A terrible situation, in which fault and liability are not clear.
So the types of cases run the gamut. I’ve had a number of motor vehicle accident cases. I have one attorney-client who does nothing but dog bites, and he sends me several cases every week. They take a long time to come to fruition, because the cases usually involve children, but this attorney’s business isn’t down one bit, and I’m still getting all of it.
Do you handle more cases for defense or plaintiff attorneys?
Dale: About equal. Whichever side I’m on, if I see a weakness, I tell my attorney-clients up front. And, as you teach, Vickie, we are saving our court systems time and money by keeping non-meritorious cases out of court – another plus in a down economy.
Do you use a network of CLNC® consultants as subcontractors to help you with your busy caseload?
Dale: Yes. I use CLNC® consultants for two reasons: 1) to leverage my time during those periods when my caseload is just too much for me to handle, and 2) when I get a case that is out of my area of expertise. Being part of the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants is the best place to look for my CLNC® subcontractors.
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