,In a medical malpractice case, it must be shown that a medical professional involved in the plaintiff’s care breached the standard of care, and that this resulted in damages to the plaintiff. A legal nurse consultant can assist in many ways, from helping to define the standard of care, to showing how this standard was or was not met, to determining what future sequelae the plaintiff may experience as a result of their injury. This basic information can amount to an educated and professional opinion that can help you decide whether a case has merit. Nurses can more quickly navigate medical records and more easily understand what standards have not been met than non-medical personnel. He or she will be able to detect what information may be missing from documentation; information that may be crucial to your case.
A lesser-known role of the legal nurse consultant in a medical malpractice case is the location of expert witnesses. A nurse can provide valuable insight on the type of expert needed and assist in reaching out to potential experts and interviewing them prior to the attorney contracting the expert’s help. This can save your legal team hours of tedious research and potential experts will feel more comfortable communicating with a fellow medical professional. In some cases legal nurse consultants can serve as expert witnesses themselves, which could save your practice thousands of dollars.
Legal nurse consultants can also assist with preparing for trial. They can assist with helping to determine what questions to ask and what information to request during discovery, as well as help with the preparation of interrogatories. Legal nurse consultants can break down explanations of medical procedures and standards of care in easy-to-understand bites of information, which can be used to paint a picture for the jury of how the medical professional failed the patient. Some legal nurse consultants even assist attorneys by creating exhibits that can be used as demonstrative evidence during trial.
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I'm Jennifer Pettigrew and, true story, I first became interested in Legal Nurse Consulting after my auto insurance company was sued following a car accident in which I was found to be at fault. I wasn't sued until after the statute of limitations was up but an exception was made and the plaintiff alleged that because of being rear-ended he was on pain medications chronically which caused him to develop diabetes and become blind. As a nurse I knew that Diabetic retinopathy cannot develop over the course of just a few years but rather is a complication that develops after several years of untreated or poorly treated diabetes. The case was settled by the insurance company before ever going to court for several million dollars, but from that point on I have been interested in the difference medical professionals could make in legal proceedings.