8 Reasons Attorneys Need RNs for Legal Nurse Consultant Jobs

Attorneys who litigate medical-related cases are intelligent. They’re also enterprising which is exactly why they use Certified Legal Nurse Consultants.

Attorneys who litigate medical-related cases are intelligent. They’re also enterprising which is exactly why they use Certified Legal Nurse Consultants. The smartest attorneys know they need RNs for their legal nurse consultant jobs for these eight reasons.

Vickie L. Milazzo
RN, MSN, JD

The smartest attorneys know they need RNs for their legal nurse consultant jobs for these eight reasons.

1. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants close the gap between the attorney’s legal expertise and the CLNC® consultant’s nursing expertise.

Healthcare is its own language and who knows that language better than an RN? No one. CLNC consultants can take the most complex case and explain it in a way that makes sense to attorneys. Cheryl Garrison RN, CEN, SANE, CLNC shares how the expertise Certified Legal Nurse Consultants bring to cases can even change the way attorneys handle those cases, “My attorney-client expressed appreciation in a letter which read: ‘Your analysis of the medical records, as well as the report you prepared, provided insight that would have not been available to investigators trying to make sense of the voluminous and complex records involved.’ He also told me that the results of my consultation ‘were decisive in obtaining convictions on the suspects involved.’ This one case changed the way the DA’s office handles all their cases.”

CLNC consultant Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC describes how attorneys think they can review a medical-related case independently until they’re shown what they’re missing. She says “When they see the scope of our nursing practice and knowledge base, most attorneys agree that their effectiveness can be enhanced by consulting with a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. One example was a case in which I discovered medical-malpractice within a personal injury case. The attorney told me he didn’t know how any attorney could work without a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. My attorney-clients express appreciation by sending me more cases and referring me to their attorney-colleagues.”

CLNC consultant Jane Hurst, RN, CLNC shares, “Attorneys are legal experts. They don’t have the education, training and experience to properly address medical-related issues. Even attorneys who specialize in medical cases need the services of a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. They may have experience with different types of injuries, illnesses, or disease; however, they don’t have the background to address the specific issues surrounding the plaintiff’s case. Not using a CLNC consultant may result in important and valuable medical issues being missed.”

2. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants have insider knowledge.

Attorneys haven’t worked in the OR, ICU, psychiatric unit, long term care, etc. CLNC consultants have been where attorneys aren’t allowed. Your knowledge is not theoretical; it’s real. You’ve been in the trenches bringing experiences to the case that the attorney can never claim.CLNC consultant Dorene Goldstein, RN, BSN, CLNC explains, “Attorneys need Certified Legal Nurse Consultants to translate the medical and nursing information into terms they can understand. We bring years of clinical experience and can explain what happens in the real world of healthcare. We read between the lines in the medical record and help decode what’s not documented.”

CLNC consultant Michelle Neal, RN, BSN, CLNC describes how CLNC consultants analyze and interpret medical records in a way attorneys cannot. She states, “Certified Legal Nurse Consultants don’t just review records to fill in the blanks on a case. We have insider knowledge, which allows us to negotiate through the complicated medical aspects of a case and deliver our findings in a clear and concise manner. We investigate and use our critical thinking skills and nursing expertise to determine missing items, what does and does not piece together, the potential contributing factors that affect the outcome of the case and how the alleged damages are or are not related to the medical and nursing care.”

CLNC consultant Laura Tucco, RN, PhD, FNP-BC, CNS-BC, CLNC expands on how attorneys are not able to understand the nuances of cases without CLNC consultants, “A medical malpractice attorney may be familiar with medical scenarios and medical jargon from reviewing cases, deposing witnesses and speaking with medical professionals, but the attorney lacks the professional healthcare experience of a CLNC consultant. The attorney doesn’t see a case through a nurse’s lens – a lens that has lived through thousands of medical scenarios with patients. This experience is invaluable and allows the CLNC consultant to bring a different and deeper perspective to a case.”

3. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are experts on the standards of care (SOC). SOC vary considerably from one specialty to another.

CLNC consultant Rebecca Jones, RN, MSN, CNM, CLNC states, “Knowing the standards will support an attorney’s case or identify holes in the case that the attorney may not have uncovered. For example, I consulted with an attorney representing a family who had lost a baby during a homebirth experience. Homebirth guidelines for midwives are different than for midwives who practice in hospital settings. There are also different educational levels of midwives and different types of licenses. These differences gave strength to the case and the attorney was impressed. She has referred several attorneys to me since then. I consider a referral the best proof of how invaluable I can be to the attorney’s case.”

CLNC consultant Robert Malaer, RN, MSN, PMHN, SANE, CNLCP, CALM, CLNC describes how Certified Legal Nurse Consultants provide a level of understanding and experience that attorneys do not possess, “We analyze voluminous and complex medical records, organize them in a way that makes sense to the attorney, summarize all relevant details into concise points, identify missing or incomplete records, and simplify the electronic medical records (EMRs). We provide insightful and thorough explanations of the inner processes and disciplines within a medical organization, identify deviations from standards of care, and explain how the deviations relate to the causation issues in the case. Juries become easily confused with highly complex or technical discussions, which is where a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant can come into play. Having a CLNC consultant explain and break down complicated concepts can ensure that the jury understands all the details of the case in laymen terms, allowing them to make a more informed decision based on the facts of the case.”

4. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are not stumped by the Electronic Medical Record (EMR).

Decoding the EMR is a skill unique to Certified Legal Nurse Consultants and they are effective and efficient in analyzing the complex EMR. Attorneys are completely baffled by the EMR.

CLNC consultant Susan Schaab, RN, BSN, CLNC addresses this fact, “Many attorneys falsely believe they can review the electronic medical records and have a full understanding of them. However, it is a mistake to equate ability to read with the ability to understand. The printout from the EMR is very different from the paper chart. Before EMRs, the discharge summary was the physician’s discharge note. Although there is still a discharge summary in the EMR, the computer discharge summary reflects the entire encounter.”

Michelle Neal, RN, BSN, CLNC explains how a fraudulent documentation case is the perfect example of why attorneys need a CLNC consultant, “In fraudulent documentation cases the documentation often doesn’t coincide with the patient’s overall condition. I use my critical thinking skills and clinical experience to piece the records together and find the gaps. I compare nursing documentation, medical administration records, staff signatures, doctor’s records, patient’s diagnoses and lab work. I play a significant role in the outcome of fraudulent documentation cases and the attorneys consistently express gratitude for my contributions.”

5. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are impartial.

MDs are known to be more protective of their profession than RNs. Perhaps that’s because MDs have more to protect. Attorneys appreciate that RNs call it the way they see it and are generally more objective than MDs.

CLNC consultant Michelle Neal, RN, BSN, CLNC shares, “Certified Legal Nurse Consultants incorporate a non-biased opinion based on the facts of the case. This makes us invaluable.”

CLNC consultant Susan Schaab, RN, BSN, CLNC describes, “Many attorneys develop detailed medical knowledge, especially those who specialize in medical cases. They begin to see malpractice and evil doing in cases that have the potential for high reward or when the client has a heartbreaking story. I’m the objective reviewer. I’m paid for delivering the highest level service and work product, and I can only do so by remaining objective. My strongest attorney-client relationships are built from distinguishing the nonmeritorious cases from the meritorious ones.”

Robert Malaer, RN, MSN, PHMN, SANE, CNLCP, CALM, CLNC also illustrates this point, “Attorneys report they hire me because I don’t base my opinion on what I think the attorney wants me to say.”

Jane Hurst, RN, CLNC emphasizes the importance of recognizing that there’s usually two sides to a story and how the CLNC consultant can save the attorney money by considering both sides, “I came across a key piece of evidence in a case and was absolutely flabbergasted. I told the plaintiff attorney it was a good thing I had reviewed the records, because if the defense had this information, he might have wound up with egg on his face. My attorney-client couldn’t thank me enough for finding the information. He told me he would never work on another case without having me on his team.”

6. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants read medical records that the MDs don’t.

While MDs are important for testifying, they simply don’t read the medical records thoroughly. They’re also known to only assess MD issues in a case. CLNC consultants create order out of the chaos of complicated medical records and identify issues the MD experts often miss.

Denise McDowell, RN, MSN, FAHM, FACMPE, CLNC states, “I discovered an important consulting physician’s note in the EMR printout that was buried at the bottom of a page. When the attorney received my report, he immediately called stating, ‘You have no idea how many people looked at this medical record, including a vascular surgeon, yet no one saw what you discovered. You’ve already earned your fee.’”

Lisa Alsip, RN, MHCM, CLNC tells us, “My attorney-client was very impressed with my work and he was completely upset that his MD had not noticed the discrepancies I observed. I have received many more cases from this attorney and he no longer uses that MD!”

Marcia Bell, RN, BSN, CAPA, CLNC adds, “I was asked to review a case previously reviewed by a surgeon and an anesthesiologist. The patient took a downward turn in the PACU and had a poor outcome. I reviewed the medical records and identified the nurse’s failure to follow the standards of care and failure to follow the physician orders. She administered a narcotic when the patient was in respiratory distress, further depressing his respiratory status. The nurse had not followed any of the orders written by anesthesia. She gave excess IV fluids in a dialysis patient. She did not notify the physician of a low oxygen saturation. When I called my attorney-client with my opinions, she said, ‘You’ve made this case for me.’ That attorney has since sent at least three more cases.”

7. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants find the nuggets that increase the value of the case.

Kaye Miller, RN, CLNC tells us, “Approximately two weeks after my meeting with an attorney-client on a slip and fall workers’ compensation case, it settled for $490,000. The settlement covered every medical, rehabilitation, physician and prescription bill. The attorney said it was unusual to get such a high settlement and that my invaluable information played a large role in the outcome.”

Jane Hurst tells us, “I’ve discovered invaluable information for my attorney-clients quite a few times. In a plaintiff case, I located information that was pivotal to a very large settlement. My attorney-client always has me review the defense expert’s curriculum vitae to identify pertinent articles, textbook chapters and/or presentations related to the case. In doing research, I discovered a video of the defense expert discussing his work with clinical trials that were used by the pharmaceutical company to get a well-known drug approved by the FDA. The drug was subsequently removed from the market, implicated in a number of patient deaths and resulted in massive litigation. Needless to say, the video gave my attorney-client a lot of leverage and would ruin the defense expert’s credibility. My attorney was prepared to use the video at trial; however, when the opposing counsel saw it she stopped the trial and settled the case for a high-dollar figure. The attorney was extremely appreciative and always tells me that I’m an important part of the team. I love being able to be actively involved, especially considering I live ten hours away from his law firm.”

8. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants have access to thousands of experts and subcontractors in the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants (NACLNC®).

Having thousands of experts and subcontractors at your fingertips is an asset attorneys recognize. It means you can help attorneys with any type of case. Another benefit – MD experts are often more responsive to requests to testify by a CLNC consultant than from attorneys.

Becky Mungai, RN, BA, CLNC says, “I’m able to secure top medical experts. My attorney-client had previously contacted an expert who said he was too busy. When I contacted the same expert he said, ‘As long as you’ve determined it’s a meritorious case, I’ll review it.’ This wasn’t the first time an expert had agreed to take on a case for me when they had said no to the attorney.”

Certified Legal Nurse Consultants perform 30 services – from analyzing the EMR to assisting the attorney with discovery. They close the gap between their nursing expertise and the attorney’s legal expertise. As CLNC consultant Michelle Neal, RN, BSN says, “Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are hidden treasures to attorneys. Attorneys shine when it comes to the law and Certified Legal Nurse Consultants only make that light shine brighter! Our depth of knowledge and clinical nursing experience allow us to play a role in medical-related cases that attorneys simply cannot.”

For more on legal nurse consultant jobs read:

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