Healthcare legal consultants for the practice of law firms
Did you spend three years in law school learning medical definitions and abbreviations? What about how to organize records in hospital record format? It was never part of my law school program. This is precisely why lawyers and paralegals should not attempt to read their own medical records in cases involving injuries or other medical issues without the assistance of a nurse consultant or nurse analyst.
Who can help?
You may have heard of legal nurses; certification is available to those who meet the education and experience requirements and pass the certification exam. But certification is not required or necessary to reap the benefits of a nurse’s medical knowledge. Nurses with a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, as well as actual clinical experience with patients, will likely be your best bet, but Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) may also meet your needs in certain circumstances.
What can they do?
Help you read and understand alphabet soup
Besides the many abbreviations that doctors use (some are easy – SOB for shortness of breath, but CABG for coronary artery bypass grafting is a bit more difficult, and do you even really know what SVC is – superior vena cava syndrome -) ?), one of the first challenge is, “Can you read their handwriting?” Nurses and medical transcriptionists have been examining this doodle for years, and they know that what may sound like a complete doodle to you actually means “Recommend a low-salt diet.” Even typed records can be difficult to sort when the facility has “sliding records” and each time the patient is seen repeats notes from the previous visit. It is enough to make eyes cross.
Define and describe drugs, their indications and uses
Another benefit of working with a nurse on case preparation is understanding pharmacy records and medication usage. Unless you want to research all of the medications a patient is taking, as well as generic versions and alternatives with similar actions, you would do well to have a nurse input. Nurses will also understand the differences in dosage and know the side effects of medications that may impact the claimed disease. What is an ACE inhibitor? What is the difference between an inhaler and a nebulizer? Do you need a prescription for nitroglycerin when you have chest pain? A nurse will know.
Provide clarification and ideas on key issues
As you go through the medical records, you will inevitably see things that you might overlook, but that could be a huge mistake. Tricia Mason, RN, BSN and Director of Medical and Scientific Services at Womble Bond Dickinson, says that often the “needle in the haystack” sits deep in medical records and requires more than a cursory examination and careful consideration. basic understanding. In a case she reviewed during her nearly 30 years of working with lawyers, she identified MRI evidence of a pre-existing arteriovenous malformation (AVM – entanglement of arteries and veins in the brain). As everyone focused on another issue, she was able to point out, and a neurosurgeon later testified that the AVM would have resulted in a reduction in life expectancy. This mitigating factor led to a significantly reduced settlement in a wrongful death case. Complicated medical issues can put you in the awkward position of not knowing what you don’t know, but having a nurse on hand is a great equalizer.
Won’t let you pay more than you should
How many times have you received a stack of medical bills from the opposing lawyer as “proof” of damage? How many of these invoices actually had to do with the alleged harm as opposed to those for completely unrelated issues? Can you sort them? You may be able to do this in some cases, but what if it is a long hospital stay? Or just two hundred pages of lines of insurance records? Nurses can identify procedure codes for surgical and diagnostic procedures unrelated to the medical claim, which could save your client thousands of dollars. It would be good to know the total amount of medical bills actually related to the claims before telling the judge that you don’t agree with the numbers.
It’s good to know a nurse
If you have a case of medical malpractice, bodily injury, wrongful death or tort, or any other case involving injury or medical / scientific issues, a nurse can be a great ally, saving you a lot. of time and headache. And the nurse will do it better and faster because, unlike you, the nurse GOT a nursing diploma in school.
Copyright Â© 2021 Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP All rights reserved.Revue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 243