Working as a Legal Nurse Consultant has been a rewarding career choice for Renee Chaya, RN, LNC, who explains the specifics of the role.
I have been a nurse paralegal/Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) for the past 18 years. Prior to that, I was a Registered Nurse at Lutheran Hospital in a variety of specialties for 16 years. That experience provided excellent background for my current role. In 2000, when I decided to become a LNC, very few programs were offered online. Today, you can earn a certificate through an on-line program at many universities such as The Ohio State University and Duke.
The programs are guided by the Standards of Practice and Professional Performance set by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). A nurse can earn certification as a Legal Nurse Consultant after meeting practice and education criteria and passing an exam with the AALNC. The AALNC defines legal nurse consulting as “the analysis and evaluation of facts and testimony and the rendering of informed opinions related to the delivery of nursing and other healthcare services and outcomes, and the nature and cause of injuries” (www.aalnc.org).
As a Legal Nurse Consultant, I work as an intermediary between attorneys and medical professionals using my knowledge of accepted practice standards, disease processes, and surgical procedures. My job entails review and summary of medical records in cases that may involve negligence, personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, and wrongful death. I explain medical issues and perform research on medicine and practice standards.
In my current position, in addition to summarizing care, I help identify key care providers involved in the care in question, locate expert witnesses, review billing records to outline possible damages, organize records as needed, perform background checks on Plaintiffs and assemble bibliographies and biographies on expert witnesses. A LNC is an investigator, seeking out claimants’ pre-existing conditions, non-compliance with medical instruction, and other reasons for the injuries outside of the allegations. Unfortunately, sometimes the best option for the client is to settle the case, based on medical findings, research, and breached practice standards. LNCs can work as independent contractors with insurance companies and in law firms. Some serve as expert witnesses. A wide variety of options exists for a nurse with an LNC diploma/certificate. It can be a very rewarding career.