Certified Legal Nurse Consultants: Point Out the Obvious to Attorney-Clients

One of my favorite things to do in Austin, Texas, other than eating at La Condesa, is walking the trail around Lady Bird Lake. It’s peaceful and relaxing being by the water. You get to see aquatic wildlife and, if you’re fast enough, sometimes you can catch a glimpse of a turtle or two sunning themselves on the bank. On our last trip, while walking the trail, Tom and I had a pretty good laugh over a warning sign we ran into on the trail, obviously put in place by a well-meaning worker from the City of Austin’s Public Works Department. It reads: SIDEWALK CLOSED, USE OTHER SIDE.

While the sign, does indeed seem to point out the obvious, it made me think about legal nurse consultants writing reports for attorney-clients. Whether you’re writing a brief or comprehensive report, you need to point out the obvious, salient points from the medical record for that attorney-client. This includes deviations from and adherences to the standard of care. As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, you’re the expert on the medical record and you are the one who must point out the obvious. The attorney is the expert on the law. While you may work with an attorney or two who knows enough about medicine to open a practice as a doctor (unlicensed), the majority of attorneys do not. Those attorney-clients depend upon you to tell them what they need to know about the treatment, injury and actions of the parties. This includes pointing out the obvious.

As a nurse, you have a tremendous amount of knowledge about nursing, medicine and just about every aspect of healthcare. This brings its own dangers. Sometimes incidents, deviations or lapses in care that are obvious to you in their effect on the case, won’t be obvious to your attorney-client. Certainly you need to write your legal nurse consulting reports to the skill level of each particular attorney-client, but, at the same time, you don’t want to overestimate their ability to see and understand the obvious. You can’t assume that the attorney will recognize the importance of a critical deviation if you give it the same weight as every other deviation you address in your report. What’s obviously important to you, may not be obvious or important to the attorney-client. If you don’t believe me, think of some of the obviously important things you point out to your spouse (“Honey, remember what happened last time you tried to rewire a lamp? I think you should unplug it first. Or Honey, don’t let the baby get too close to that alligator.”).

If something is obvious to you and importantly obvious to the case, point it out. Tell the attorney-client why it’s important. Don’t assume they’ll pick up on it themselves. Do this religiously and you just might keep them from getting soaked in court or in a lake.

Success Is Inside!

P.S. Comment and share what you will do to be more obvious about pointing out the obvious to your attorney-clients.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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