Over the Christmas holiday Vickie and I attended the Broadway show “No Man’s Land” starring two of my favorite actors – Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. We purchased our tickets late and so were sitting back a little further in the theatre than I normally prefer. Also, my contacts were a little dry and dirty after a day on the streets of New York City. And did I mention I was a little sleepy? Why am I making these excuses? Simple – because of what comes next.
When analyzing medical records as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant one thing is certain – medical records lead to more medical records. Sometimes it’s the additional records that hold the answers to the issues in the case. Savvy CLNC consultants don’t jump the gun, delivering opinions prematurely.
Contrary to popular belief, plaintiff attorneys don’t pursue every medical malpractice case that comes through the door. They have to be selective because they only make money if they win or settle the case. Considering a plaintiff attorney will invest $100,000-$200,000 to get a case to trial, losing is a pricey proposition. The more successful the attorney, the more selective he will be about the threshold level of damages he’ll expect to recover in the case.
A defense verdict was rendered after three days of deliberation in the 5-month-long trial of Michael Jackson’s survivors versus his promoters.
My most memorable case was the very first one. For this, I received a 4 ft. tall stack of medical records which chronicled the final year of the patient’s life. The attorney contacted me after he had already determined the issues. That was too bad because, while the plaintiff was suing an acute rehabilitation unit within the hospital for the death of her husband, some of the problems were also incurred in the general hospital. An expanded focus might have addressed those issues.
The one case I’ll always remember is my first case. Two days before Christmas, a defense attorney hired me to consult on a breast cancer case. On Christmas Eve a large box of records was delivered to my door.
The electronic medical record (EMR) is becoming omnipresent in the healthcare system. But EMR tampering issues in medical-related cases are a brand new frontier. It’s rare for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants and attorneys to peek behind the EMR curtain, but in the case of Samuel Sweet versus UPMC University Hospital we get to do just that. I first ran across this case last year, when the judge ordered the trial delayed after a local newspaper article about the case and the alleged tampering was published just before jury selection.
I recently brought an idea into a quarterly all-day executive meeting fully expecting us to spend substantial time discussing it. We did, but not in the way I expected. That one idea stimulated a discussion that took the entire meeting and led us into a completely different direction. By the end of the day, we landed on a new and improved idea, one that was much better than my original.
One of the most important principles I have learned from consulting with attorneys is to anticipate the opposing side’s arguments and positions. I also learned this analysis strategy in law school. On final exams, my grades depended upon my ability to argue both sides of every case even when I didn’t like my own arguments.
My favorite vacations include hiking. The more remote the trail, the more I enjoy the experience. While I don’t mind seeing people, I much prefer to share the trail with wildlife than “wild life.” Being in the woods recalibrates all of my senses and rebalances me.