Nurses with an interest for both medical and legal issues may be a great asset for law offices–particularly those handling personal injury matters. Whether you are on the defense side or the plaintiff’s side, your practice can benefit from the advice of a good legal nurse consultant.
Legal nurse consultants use their healthcare knowledge in conjunction with an interest in the legal system to offer unique and valuable insight in this combined profession.
Legal nurse consultants are commonly called by both defense attorneys and plaintiff’s/prosecutors for their forensic or pharmacological familiarity to help determine difficult criminal or civil cases. More commonly, legal nurse consultants consult with attorneys and others in the legal field on medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other healthcare-related cases. These legal specialists are responsible for interviewing clients, reviews medical records, researches and summarizes medical literature, helps evaluate liabilities and damages, assists with depositions, prepares exhibits, and identifies and retains expert witnesses. They are also incredibly useful for doing medical chronologies during fact investigation.
Legal nurse consultants are registered nurses who have previously worked in emergency rooms, or in other disciplines, who then take on focused training at legal nurse consulting schools. These schools offer on-campus or online nursing degree coursework in legal ethics, personal injury cases, forensic science, and legal writing to name a few. There are also dedicated classes in legal issues about medical malpractice, auto accident injury, lower back pain, and product liability.
Certified legal nurse consultants are regularly contracted to work with private attorneys and corporate lawyers. However, many find work outside the courtroom. Some take positions with hospitals, insurance companies, and government agencies. Many are hired to help provide quality assurance at pharmaceutical firms and chemical companies. About half of all legal nurse consultants work on staff at law firms, insurance companies and other institutions, and their salaries are often comparative to those of hospital nursing administrators. The other half of legal nurse consultants work independently.
The use of legal nurse consultants is expected to increase as more and more companies introduce medications and devices that are federally approved, or reviewed in the courtroom or by government agencies. While formal training in legal nurse consulting is not required, training and educational programs are available at universities, community colleges, and other private and public institutions.