My career as a legal nurse consultant began more than 17 years ago. I was working at a hospital as a geriatric clinical nurse specialist and wound care consultant. In the fall of 2003, a defense attorney contacted me and requested that I review medical records for a hospital.
The case involved allegations of elder abuse and the main focus was pressure ulcer development. I took on this case not knowing what I was doing, but as I have most of my nursing career, I jumped from the frying pan into the fire with both feet.
Consulting on this case engaged my interest in adding legal nurse consultant to my repertoire of roles as an RN. I started out charging $125/hour for case reviews adding a good part-time income to my revenue stream.
In 2004 I decided that I needed to learn how to work smarter (not harder) by learning what the role of the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant really involved and how to promote and manage this as a business. I completed Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC® Certification Program and became certified. Vickie became my mentor over the years and I follow her guidelines for marketing my CLNC business, case analysis, report writing, etc. I continue to participate in the advanced programs offered by the Institute. I have attended two workshops presented by Vickie and Stedman Graham to learn how to push my goals to new levels. I believe all of the education has taught me what I needed to know to help create, grow and maintain the successful CLNC business I now have. I currently consult full time and earn $300,000/year.
Most of my business comes from repeat attorney clients, and word-of-mouth referrals. I am my own boss. My business is “Have office, will travel,” meaning if I want to take a trip, I can take my work with me if necessary. I do not have to ask for time off. My time is my time. My CLNC business gives me so much freedom.
One of my most memorable cases involved a hospital being accused of elder abuse and neglect because of pressure ulcer development. My opinion in the case was that the nursing standards of care were satisfied, and the pressure ulcer was unavoidable because of the patient’s comorbidities. I pointed the attorney to all of the appropriate interventions for prevention (e.g. turning and repositioning) and treatment that were documented in the medical record. This case went to deposition, which ended with the plaintiff attorney wanting to copy all of the documentation that I presented. Before this could be done, as the defense attorney and I waited in the lobby, the plaintiff attorney reappeared and declared the case was not going further and would be settled. My attorney has told other attorneys, “She can find the jewels in the case that no one else finds.” This case occurred early in my career and illustrates the importance of a thorough record review, leaving no stone unturned. I still review cases for this attorney, and he has referred me to other attorneys many times.
I attribute my success in my CLNC business and in my life to going after what I want without out fear or hesitation. I also access and use the tools I need to be successful in pursuit of my goals. I provide attorneys an objective comprehensive review with rationale and facts to back up my opinions. I always say, “Talking is not doing.” You have to stop talking about what you want and just go for it with passion and focus. I remember what Vickie always says, “We Are Nurses and We Can Do Anything!”
Guest Blogger Profile
Sandra Higelin, RN, MSN, CNS, CWCN, CLNC, owner of NIA, LLC, is an independent Certified Legal Nurse Consultant and clinical educator with 30 years’ experience in acute care, long term care, home health and hospice. She specializes in geriatric care and pressure injury prevention and management. Sandra consults on elder abuse and elder neglect cases for both plaintiff and defense attorneys.
P.S. Comment here to congratulate Sandra on her CLNC Success.