Finding and vetting an expert medical witness can be time consuming and frustrating for your legal staff. While legal professionals may have networked extensively in the legal world, the medical world is a different animal. Aside from needing to navigate medical jargon and look up the meanings of different acronyms for credentials, it can also be difficult to distinguish between the relative notability of different items on an expert’s (or “expert’s”) CV. A Registered Nurse working as a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) already speaks the language of medical jargon and may be able to tell you off the top of their head what the difference in prestige is between, for example, being the president of ACEP and the president of GCEP (that’s the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians). The LNC would also be able to tell you whether the individual with works published by the National Network for Immunization Information will look more- or less-credible than the individual with works published by the National Vaccine Information Center (it’s the former!) without having to waste time on extra research.
On top of that, once the LNC (or the legal team) finds an individual they’d like to speak to, there are countless difficulties that might be encountered in trying to reach that individual. Nurses know how to get past “gatekeepers” in medical world and get through to the doctor. After all, it’s their job. Nurses also have thick skins when it comes to dealing with ornery healthcare providers who don’t want to be bothered and can help break down barriers between you, as the attorney, and the best qualified physician expert to support your case.
Once a potential expert has been located the legal nurse consultant can serve as an ambassador between the attorney and the expert, providing the medical details and potential legal implications (as indicated by the attorney) to the expert witness. Due to their professional medical background nurses can often detect the reasons behind the physician expert’s query and can help facilitate the exchange of important information.
On the other hand, if the attorney prefers, many nurse consultants are more than happy to locate a witness and pass the baton off the to the legal team- it’s really a matter of attorney preference. In either case, however, a legal nurse consultant can streamline the process of finding a medical expert witness while minimizing the number of minute details the attorney has to manage, and that’s a win-win situation!
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.