Standards of care are the foundation for your analysis in every medical malpractice case. The three primary categories of standards are all vital to developing a comprehensive medical malpractice case. Use the following list to ensure you research and incorporate all relevant standards of care into your next medical malpractice opinion.
5 Questions Certified Legal Nurse Consultants Should Develop in Hospital-Acquired Infection Medical Malpractice Cases
Hospitals have long been penalized for high rates of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and as Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know, HAIs can have serious, long-term consequences for patients. Hospital-acquired infections have been estimated to cause up to $30 billion in annual medical costs.
How many times have you gotten all geared up to analyze a medical case for an attorney-client only to find that the information is incomplete and records are missing? What’s a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant to do?
Imagine a fatal motor vehicle accident (MVA). A car is traveling at 93 miles per hour. The driver is unconscious or otherwise unresponsive. It crashes into another car killing one passenger and injuring two others. The driver is brought up on criminal charges of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and various counts of criminal assault.
Plaintiff attorneys are driven by the damages in a case, but that doesn’t mean they go after all of the available damages. For example, an attorney representing a plaintiff in a vegetative state from facility #1 would probably not pursue pressure ulcer damages caused by facility #2.
Every medical-related case you analyze as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant holds a truth of the facts – i.e., exactly what transpired. Yet we weren’t there, so there is something standing between that truth and the outcome of the case whether it settles or goes to trial. That something is perception. Perception is not truth, it is interpretation.
Sometimes cases are so horrific that it’s in the defendant’s best interest to admit liability and either settle or take the case to trial for damages only. As an example, I consulted on an obstetrical case where the newborn was declared dead, the parents were informed and the newborn was taken down to the morgue. Then a healthcare provider in the morgue recognized that the newborn was still alive. The physician interrupted the distraught parents’ grieving to inform them that their “dead” baby was actually alive. Their ecstasy was short-lived – because valuable time was lost, the baby was severely brain-injured. Needless to say, that case settled.
It is critical to stay detached when you’re analyzing medical-related cases as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. Our job is not to be a vigilante for injured people or the protector of overworked, underpaid registered nurses. Our job is to give an objective viewpoint of the merits of the case. Sometimes that means telling a defense attorney that the case is meritorious. And sometimes it means telling a plaintiff attorney the case has no merit despite unfortunate injuries.
In consulting on sexual abuse cases as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant I’m often reviewing many hundreds of pages of records. I’ve learned that the greater the volume of records to review, the easier it is to waste time figuring out where to start and how to begin. My strategy for efficient and accurate analysis is as follows:
- Identify the available documents. You may receive documents (either hard copies or on a disk) already categorized into files. It’s helpful to list on a Word® document the following: “I have reviewed the following documents from your office pertinent to xxx case” and then list the available documents according to the name on disk or paper file. Next to the name, list the date or time period covered by that document. Once you have the documents listed, you can review them in whatever order is helpful to you. Other times when you’re consulting on a SANE case you may receive a disk with one file numbering several thousand pages. In that case, skim through to begin a cursory identification of the file contents and list headings on your Word document such as psychiatric hospitalization at [facility] from [date] to [date].
CLNC® consultants rarely get bored because every case is unique with a set of facts that will never appear the same way in any other. Change any of those facts and the outcome is potentially different.