One of my most memorable cases is a legal nurse consultant job involving a teenage male, John, who became a quadriplegic following a sports-related injury. He was admitted to the hospital for a routine revision of his suprapubic catheter and discharged home five hours after the procedure in reportedly stable condition.
Five hours after discharge a 911 team was called and found John unresponsive. The resuscitative efforts were unsuccessful. He was transported to the nearest emergency department and pronounced dead on arrival.
John was on multiple medications for the management of quadriplegia. The autopsy report indicated a high level of Baclofen which is used for muscle spasticity. Although the level was not toxic and still within normal range, the coroner listed the cause of death as Baclofen toxicity.
During my review of the medical record for this legal nurse consultant job, I discovered that the registered nurse gave John a higher than needed dose of oral pain medication just prior to discharge. This medication was only indicated for severe pain. The RN administered this medication one hour before he was scheduled to receive more medication. This was the crucial piece of evidence that supported the claim of medical malpractice.
My attorney-client had previously submitted this case to three legal nurse consultants. I was the only one who uncovered this medication error.
In working this legal nurse consultant job, I performed a brief review of the medical records and gave my opinion regarding how the RN deviated from the standards of care. Then I provided a comprehensive report regarding all of the medications involved and how they did, or did not, have a role in John’s death.
The outcome is still pending, but I know that uncovering the medication error has given my attorney-client the information he needs to support the plaintiff’s claim.
My attorney-client gave me three compliments that provided the validation I need to remain focused on building my business as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. He said:
- “This is exactly what I needed and you’re the only person who uncovered this medication error.”
- “After talking to the neuro physician expert, he agreed with you that Baclofen was not the cause of death.”
- “I will ensure you’re paid promptly, so you’ll always take my phone calls for future legal nurse consultant jobs.”
As an obstetrics provider for the majority of my nursing career, it was validating to know that the nursing process is still the nursing process. Whether working in general medicine or maternal child health, analyzing basic standards of care is expected across all specialties of nursing. It was a way for me to say, “I’ve still got it!”
This memorable case made me less fearful of taking non-obstetrical cases when attorneys contact me for legal nurse consultant jobs. Plus completing all the work on this medical malpractice case gave me my biggest single check ($7,500) to date as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
The most memorable lesson I learned is to handle every medical record the same. Whether the case is surgical, obstetrics, pediatrics or psychiatric, the CLNC consultant must be consistent in the evaluation process. By developing a routine it is easier to retrace my steps if needed, and I’m less likely to miss or forget something crucial.
Uncovering this piece of evidence will help my attorney-client prove that John’s death could have been prevented. I am confident that the family will receive monetary compensation, and although that does not bring their son back, it may help them with the financial and emotional burden they are living with.
Guest Blogger Profile
Rebecca Jones, RN, MSN, CNM, CLNC owns Jones Legal Nurse Consulting in Colorado. She has 30 years nursing experience in primary care, OB/GYN, neonatal, labor and delivery, outpatient surgery and public health. Rebecca specializes in obstetrics and maternal child health. She has experience with medical malpractice cases, long term care, personal injury and da Vinci robotic surgery cases.
P.S. Comment to congratulate Rebecca and to share your most memorable CLNC case.