Legal Nurse Consultant
A Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) practices a specialty in the nursing profession. It is a specialized field that converges medical/nursing and legal disciplines. LNCs are consulted by attorneys and legal professionals for their proficiency and experience in nursing and the field of health care to analyze, evaluate and provide views on healthcare delivery and results rendered. Historically, more than 20 years ago, nurses were presented to the court in the capacity of expert witnesses. Experts in nursing practice were consulted for, and asked to testify in courts in order to impart clarification for standards of care within the field of nursing.
While most LNCs are bachelor’s degree holder and some with advanced education such as masters or doctoral degrees, a basic requirement to enter a legal nurse consultancy program is an active license. An experience in various areas significantly matters even if the required number of years of experience vary. The nurse must take a legal nurse consulting coursework and later obtain a certification. Training and education prepare the nurses for the ability of interpreting an enormous amount of multifaceted data in medical records, and to elucidate the most essential in lay terms and clarify such being fit in the analysis of a given case. LNCs are also equipped to transform even the most intricate case into an articulate, out of the ordinary narrative that an attorney can keep track effortlessly and expound persuasively to the adjudicators. The National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants (NACLNC), the largest and oldest association of LNCs, and the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) administer recognized certification for nurse specialists of this field.
The practice environment of certified LNCs include consulting firms, law firms, insurance companies, hospitals, government agencies, or independent practice. Although certified LNCs typically handle medical and nursing malpractice as well as cases where health, illness, and injury are issues, they may also be consulted for cases of:
- General personal injury
- Fraud and abuse
- Risk management
- Products liability
- Toxic torts and environmental cases
- Worker’s compensation and workplace injury cases
- Criminal cases.
More specifically, certified LNCs function in the following capacities:
- Examine new cases for merit
- Track down and interrogate medical experts
- Review client medical and related records
- Liaison between law firms, medical experts and other parties
- Formulate medical-legal case theories
- Determine deviations from nursing standards of care
- Coordinate independent medical examinations
In order to survive the demands of the job and be successful at it, the LNC must have strong organization, communication and multi-tasking skills aside from the cornerstone, critical thinking. Not only should the nurse have extensive knowledge and experience in nursing and the field of healthcare, but also knowledge on basic legal terminology and processes. Being an intensive work, LNCs receive lucrative pay. Legal nurse consultants can command $100 to $150 per hour for services rendered. And on the average, upto $113,633 annually (www.payscale.com).
The future of LNCs is very promising. The fact that these days, its not unusual for a nurse to be named in a suit along with the hospital, clinical and medical team is one of the many reasons it is. With 1,203,097 licensed attorneys (American Bar Association Market Research Department, 2010) and growing in the United States who will continue to seek consult from LNCs, unlimited opportunities await.