Certified Legal Nurse Consultants provide a cost-effective service when advising plaintiff attorneys that a case is nonmeritorious. This advice can save an attorney as much as $200,000 for a medical malpractice case. That’s money that can be budgeted toward a meritorious case.
In this blog the CLNC® Pros describe cases they advised were not meritorious – sometimes contrary to the attorney’s initial assessment. As you’ll see here attorneys appreciate this kind of frank and objective advice which results in a win-win for both the attorney and the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant – money savings for the attorney and more legal nurse consultant jobs for the CLNC Consultant.
“I feel very comfortable in telling an attorney that a case is nonmeritorious. For example, I reviewed a case involving a prospective plaintiff who had gastric bypass surgery. She did well for six months and lost 100 pounds. She started vomiting and went to the emergency room. She was diagnosed with an internal hernia and subsequently had a small bowel resection and developed short gut syndrome. I was able to find the incidence of internal hernias. I also researched the surgical technique that the physician used. He had used the latest technique that was shown to reduce the risks of internal hernias. Internal hernias were a known risk of the procedure and it was diagnosed promptly.”
– Marcia L. Bell, RN, BSN, CAPA, CLNC
“I reviewed a case where a plaintiff underwent a laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy and sustained a bladder laceration during the surgery. After reviewing the medical records, it was my opinion that the case was not meritorious. The informed consent noted that a perforation was a possible risk of the procedure (laparoscopy) and although the plaintiff had to undergo an open procedure to repair the laceration, it was a risk of the surgery.”
– Dorene Goldstein, RN, BSN, CLNC
“I reviewed a case involving a patient who died from sepsis. The death certificate stated cause of death as sepsis, and the physician documentation noted probable sepsis. However, analyzing the medical records, I found the patient had two sets of blood cultures done over two-days, and all four blood cultures were negative. Without a definitive diagnosis of sepsis, and other issues such as she was a hemodialysis patient with critical lab results, I informed my attorney-client that the case was not meritorious.”
– Jane Hurst, RN, CLNC
“I’ve consulted on more than 300 cases and my attorney-clients appreciate that I’m objective. Gaining the attorney-clients’ trust and respect has required an objective approach to each case with honest and direct communication.
On one case I received 6,500 pages of medical records to review. After reviewing half of the records, it became clear that the client had a history of narcotic seeking and that his reported injuries were inconsistent with the findings noted. I called the attorney and reported my preliminary findings and opinion that this case was not meritorious. The attorney did not believe that his attorney-colleague would drop a case on him that was nonmeritorious and asked me to complete my review. The remaining records further solidified my opinion on the matter, and I wrote a complete report explaining why the case was nonmeritorious.
After receiving my report and invoice, the attorney called and was not happy. He questioned every aspect of my report and informed me he was going to mediation with the client in three days and would call me after that. On the morning of the mediation, the attorney called and said he had a completely different attitude concerning my opinion. He informed me that he met the client for the first time upon arrival to the mediation and found my findings to be spot on. The attorney settled the case. The result: he now consults with me on all of his cases and refers me to his attorney-colleagues.”
– Robert Malaer, RN, MSN, PMHN, SANE, CNLCP, CALM, CLNC
Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Michelle Neal, RN, BSN, CLNC sums this issue up perfectly. “The attorneys’ clients are often fighting for a loved one that suffered from an unfortunate illness. They are not always aware of the complexity of medical conditions and/or contributory factors that have the potential to play a significant role in a patient’s condition. Every injury and/or deteriorating condition isn’t always related to medical negligence – sometimes it’s just the natural progression of a disease worsened by a pre-existing condition. This is just one more reason why Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are invaluable to attorneys. Not only do we investigate the alleged damages, but we are able to determine if pre-existing conditions or non-compliance played a role in a patient’s declining condition.”
Thanks to these CLNC Pros for highlighting why you’re indispensable in advising attorneys of nonmeritorious cases. When you’re bold in your opinion the attorney benefits and you’re setting yourself up for more legal nurse consultant jobs.
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P.S. Comment and share your experience with communicating to attorneys that a case is nonmeritorious.