The medical and legal arenas often overlap – and when they do, attorneys need experts who can help them with their health care-related cases. Often, they turn to Legal Nurse Consultants for assistance and direction.
Legal nurse consulting has been recognized as a specialty nursing practice since the late 1980s. LNCs assist with legal research, communication, case preparation and litigation regarding health care.
LNCs often start their careers as nurses in clinical settings such as hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers. They may be approached by an attorney about the medical aspects of a case and may be asked to review medical records or provide explanations of procedures. Some begin the transition from clinical nursing to the medical-legal field by starting to work part-time for a legal firm.
Areas of support LNCs can provide to attorneys include personal injury, medical negligence, product liability, toxic torts, risk management, workers’ compensation and fraud and abuse.
LNCs use their clinical experience to interpret medical records and documents. They can utilize their nursing background and knowledge of health care standards to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a case. They also have a network of medical and professional contacts and resources.
Most LNCs have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in nursing or another health-related field. Some practice as independent consultants; others are employed by insurance companies, law firms and other institutions in a variety of roles.
The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) offers an extensive online course for RNs interested in becoming legal nurse consultants. The association also offers a certification process (LNCC).
Is legal nurse consulting right for you? The AALNC has an online self-assessment tool that lets you determine how suited you are for the profession of legal nurse consulting.
They also offer a free webinar that provides information about the profession, the education process and the work environment to anyone interested. Check the AALNC’s website to find out when the next webinar will be presented.