My most Memorable CLNC® Case is the first case I consulted on. The case involved a nursing home patient who choked and expired as result of improper basic life support (BLS) by the staff. I was able to put my nursing expertise and new Certified Legal Nurse Consultant skills to work to help someone who had a poor outcome from negligent care.
A resident choked on a large piece of meat during lunch in the main dining room of the nursing home where he resided. The staff attempted the Heimlich maneuver while the resident remained in his wheelchair and they continued until the resident became unconscious. Instead of lowering the resident to the floor and removing all other diners, as was the nursing policy, the staff decided it was better to move the unconscious resident back to his room before starting BLS. This transfer took approximately five minutes to complete and by then the patient was apneic and pulseless. The staff was unable to revive the resident. The autopsy found the resident still had the meat in his throat. We were able to prove the staff did not follow the standards of care according to American Heart Association BLS protocols, and the nursing home’s own policies on residents in critical health situations.
The was my first case, and when I discovered the obvious deviations from the standards of care, I realized I really could provide expertise as an RN in a consulting role. My goal was to review the case without preconceived ideas and to give the attorney an objective analysis.
I provided the initial review and a detailed report, including a pictorial demonstration of the correct sequence of BLS for providers in a choking situation. We even went so far as to make a video of the same sequences and why the staff deviated when they took the extra time to move an unconscious person from the room where the incident occurred. I provided the attorney with the necessary questions and a list of the medical records and documents to request, such as the education logs to see if and how BLS education was provided to the staff and whether the log was up to date at the time of the incident.
The verdict was for the plaintiff (in this case the family since the patient died). My role impacted the case by providing the tools, skills and demonstrative evidence in the form of video for the attorney to make a valid presentation in the courtroom.
The attorney was impressed with my CLNC services, and he is still a strong client today, so that speaks volumes to me. I also received a very kind letter from the family thanking me for my professionalism and dedication to detail. I was very humbled by the time and effort it must have taken to write that letter.
Although I’ve had other cases that provided more profit over the years, this first case started and sustained my CLNC business at the beginning of my CLNC career and allowed me to market and attract new attorney-clients that I still have today.
This memorable case also taught me to trust my instincts. Nurses have skills and insights into the inside stories of healthcare that no other professional has and our ability to pick up on the most subtle hints or blatant evidence of negligence makes us valuable in ways physicians or other medical personnel are simply not.
This case gave me the confidence I needed to continue to pursue legal nurse consulting and it still inspires me 16 years later.
Guest Blogger Profile
Katt Bowers, MSN, RN, TNS, CLNC owner of KSB Legal Nurse Services has more than 30 years’ nursing experience in medical-surgical, emergency department/trauma, pediatrics, travel nursing, information technology and risk management. Katt consults on medical-related cases for both plaintiff and defense attorneys.
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