One of my most Memorable CLNC cases came early on in my career. I had just obtained a legal nurse consultant job from a local plaintiff attorney who specialized in nursing home litigation. The case presented to me was as an elderly female with numerous decubitus ulcers that eventually turned into a rather nasty bout of sepsis and later death.
Defense counsel presented this case as an aged woman with numerous comorbidities including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. They argued that her overall health was poor and her skin condition was basically unavoidable due to these factors.
I was handed what looked like an oversized laundry basket filled with loose papers which turned out to be her nursing home record in quite a state of disarray. I knew my way around a medical record, so I quickly began to organize the file. As I sat on my floor surrounded by piles of paper, I felt more like I was at a campfire than consulting for a prominent local attorney.
Once organized, I did my usual Nancy Drew analysis of identifying gaps in care, breaches of nursing standards and missing records. After I completed this labor of love, I had over 20 pages of data relevant to this case. It was now time to present the legal nurse consultant job to my attorney-client.
As with most attorneys, I have come to learn that our job is to summarize large volumes of medical records into a brief summary. Clearly, this was impossible here, but I did my best.
When I presented the report, citing the multitude of issues I believed were relevant to the case, the attorney flipped through the pages and slammed the report on his desk. “What is all of this? I can’t read all this?” He was a bald man and by now I could see that vein in his head bulging. My mind was racing with negative thoughts. “I’m never going to get another case. This guy hates me. Oh dear Lord, what have I done.” I somehow remained composed and didn’t cry, although the tears could have rained a tsunami at that point. I calmly proceeded to explain why the information I provided was in fact relevant to the case. At one point, I reminded him that she had died. He was not aware that she was dead. Can you believe that? By now, we had reached epic levels of agitation and he stormed out of his office to retrieve his partner. He explained everything we had just discussed and his partner agreed with me.
The partner explained how lab values I had highlighted were in fact key to the case. His partner was also dumbfounded that the attorney did not know his client was dead. The dust settled and I went home wondering if I would ever hear from this attorney again. Sure enough he sent me more legal nurse consultant jobs.
Later I interviewed for a defense law firm who had heard about me in the nursing home litigation world. They mentioned one of the reasons they chose to hire me was because of the rather large verdict on one of my wound care cases with guess who at the helm! This case had settled for more than half a million dollars, which is unheard of in our area. I later went on to ask my original attorney-client what happened with that case. He smiled and told me the same story that the defense firm relayed during my interview.
There is something to be said about what Certified Legal Nurse Consultants bring to the table for attorneys. We are the experts in nursing. I look back on that case and am happy that I did not waver or falter when I was being quizzed as to the merits of my work.
That case was more than 10 years ago now. I currently consult with a network of attorneys in my area, derived solely on referral from attorney-clients who are pleased with the integrity and moral compass that I bring to their medical-related cases.
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Kimberley M. Collise, RN, CLNC, SCRN founded Insight Consulting in 2005. Kimberley’s clinical expertise includes stroke and she specializes in medical malpractice, long term care, products liability and personal injury cases. She has been an RN for 22 years.
P.S. Comment here to congratulate Kimberley M. Collise, RN, SCRN, CLNC and to share your most memorable CLNC case.