When I am met by others, even in my own Profession of Nursing and by some Attorney’s, I often receive a look of confusion when I respond to a question of “what do you do?” with the answer: “I am a Legal Nurse Consultant”. So, I would present the role of the Legal Nurse Consultant and hopefully convey to you an image of this role and how this role fits within the Legal Team as well as contributes to positive outcomes in Nursing and Health Care Delivery.
What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?
A Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) is a member of a specialty community of licensed Registered Nurses who critically evaluate and analyze facts and outcomes related to clinical and administrative nursing practice (Peterson and Kopishke, 2010). The LNC Serve’s attorneys, health care organizations and the greater community. The LNC is an expert in understanding and in application of the Professional Nursing Scopes and Standards of Practice.
As cited by the authors, there are 15 Standards within the Scope of Practice for the Legal Nurse Consultant (2010). Utilizing the nursing process as a solid foundation the LNC meets these approved standards through the many roles and responsibilities he or she has. These roles and responsibilities are integrated below in order of the cited Scopes of Practice (2010):
- Understands the importance of and performs comprehensive Collection of pertinent data related to the case being assessed
- Identifies issues related to the case assessed utilizing a critical analysis process and skill set
- Uses both clinical and theoretical evidence based experience and knowledge to identify appropriate outcomes expected as a result of the plan or case
- Identifies and collaborates with the legal team and/or health care organization on the development and strategizing of a plan to achieve outcomes
- Uses his or her skills to implement the plan for achieving these outcomes
- Maintains excellent organization and communication skills to coordinate services needed to achieve outcomes
- Serves as a nurse educator to assist others (attorney’s, health care providers, administrators and more) in the understanding of standards of practice and the legal issues related to a case or claim
- Serves as a collaborator for implementation of the plan, change management, and support for others. Collaborates with others in the conduct of Legal Nursing Practice
- Serves as an evaluator for the achievement of outcomes
- Is systematic in the assurance of quality and safety in nursing practice
- Is knowledgeable, skilled, and educated in Legal Nurse Practice and maintains competency in nursing practice according to the American Nurses Association and American Academy of Legal Nurse Consultant Scopes and Standards for Practice. Also, maintains competency requirements of the State(s) and organizations in which he or she is licensed.
- Constantly and consistently performs self-evaluation of his or her Professional Practice
- Promotes the growth and development of other professionals and focuses on building positive working relationships
- Is knowledgeable of the Code of Ethics for Nursing practice and demonstrates in his or her own practice how to practice according to the Code of Ethics
- Has developed excellent research skills and ability to prudently integrate research into practice
- Is a Leader on all levels of Professional Nursing Practice
Where do Legal Nurse Consultants Work?
- Independent Consulting Practice
- Law Firms
- Other Health Care Organizations
- Insurance Companies
- And more. . .
What types of Practice do Legal Nurse Consultants contribute to?
- Personal Injury
- Toxic Tort/Mass Cases
- Administrative Law
- Life Care Planning
- Employment Law
- Occupational Safety
- Specialty Nursing Areas (for example: Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Surgery. . .)
- Insurance (Medicare)
- Nursing Homes
- And more. . .
What Roles do Legal Nurse Consultants Serve In?
- Quality and Risk Management
- Expert Testimony
- Change Management
- Project and Process Improvement
- And more. . .
What a Legal Nurse Consultant is NOT:
Although Legal Nurse Consultants may be trained in the roles and responsibilities of a Paralegal, the Legal Nurse Consultant is not a Paralegal (2010). LNCs are a specialty of nurses who are licensed and hold a degree or degrees in Nursing in addition to their degrees and certifications as a LNC. This makes them a valuable member of any legal or health care team in that they can be relied upon to provide informed opinions regarding nursing and health care practice. It may not be unusual however for a LNC to provide assistance to attorneys in the area of paralegal support in certain situations (2010). Nurses are highly skilled in critical thinking and problem solving and understand the importance of remaining flexible in the care of others.
How do Legal Nurse Consultants Positively Impact Outcomes in Nursing and Health Care Delivery? Here are two of the most important areas of Impact.
LNCs are an economical choice for Attorney’s, Law Firms, and Health Care Organizations. Because the Legal Nurse is a trained and experienced Registered Nurse the skills needed to navigate medical records, identification of medical and nursing issues, navigation of organizational structures and environments, improving processes, providing knowledgeable expert opinion, and more, time is not wasted in the learning process or in overcoming barriers to achieving outcomes.
LNCs spend much of their time in evaluation and research of law, current practices and in the application of evidence in nursing practice. This is done in relation to the Scopes and Standards of Practice related to the Profession and Specialty area in question. Because of this responsibility LNCs are able to quickly identify areas of liability that exist in a case or in a health care organization. Not just skilled in the area of identification of these liabilities the LNC is skilled in providing recommendation and opinion based on evidence for the elimination of both actual and potential liabilities.
LNCs are also excellent educators and can be heavily relied upon by the legal team to clarify issues, bring vision to the case, and more. LNCs are also valuable to both health care and non-health care organizations seeking knowledge on Standards of Nursing Practice and on how to make their organizations a healthier place to work.
Are you looking for a Legal Nurse Consultant?
I would love for you to take some time in review of my website and services. You can find this site by clicking on this link https://www.upvisionconsulting.com/services. Please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear from you and discuss how I can assist you.
In addition to working with Attorney’s and Health Care Clients I provide workshops, presentations, conference sessions, and more. I also provide many topics of interest such as bullying, sexual harassment, behavioral standards, Leadership and Team Building, and more, for both Health Care and Non-Health Care Organizations. I am available in person or virtually for presentations.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this post! I am excited to share the role of the Legal Nurse Consultant with you and I am hopeful you have at least one take away from this presentation. I would also love for you to follow my monthly blog https://www.upvisionconsulting.com/blog-page.
The Legal Nurse,
Jaimee Gerrie MSN, BSN, RN, LNC, CPPS
Peterson, A., M., & Kopishke, L. (2010). Legal Nurse Consulting Principles. 3rd edition. American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press