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  • Swinehart Consulting, LLC

Do You Need a Legal Nurse Consultant For a Medical Malpractice Case?

If you’re a medical malpractice attorney that handles cases on a contingency fee, you need a legal nurse consultant to review a potential client’s medical record before you sign up a case. A merit report from an experienced legal nurse consultant will provide you with all the information you need to determine whether investing in a particular case is worthwhile. If you receive many inquiries from potential clients each day, a legal nurse consultant can help you streamline the case selection process. Most successful medical malpractice attorneys depend on the assistance of legal nurse consultants, if you’re just starting out, it’s time to get on board.

The Legal Nurse Consultant Merit Report

As soon as you determine that a case seems promising, the next step is to hire a legal nurse consultant to obtain all the relevant medical records. An experienced legal nurse consultant will then carefully review these materials to determine whether there has been a deviation from the standard of care by a medical professional, looking not just at the actions of medical doctors, but of all the medical professionals involved with the care of the patient, including nurses, physicians assistants, physical therapists, etc. For example, if client claims they had a heart attack after being sent home from the emergency room with a diagnosis of heartburn. A review of the records will show what symptoms the patient complained of, what tests were ordered and what follow-up was suggested to determine whether the hospital failed to diagnosis and treat an impending heart attack. The merit report will also look at the follow-up treatment to determine whether the harm done to the patient by the failure to diagnose will form a sufficient basis for damages to “merit” bringing a malpractice case. Here, if the patient had just walked out of the hospital, and was brought back in and immediately treated for a very mild heart attack, and there would not have been a substantially different outcome with prompter treatment, the case could be turned down based on the report.

Legal Nurse Consultants Reports Are Valuable for Medical Malpractice Litigation

Every experienced medical malpractice attorney knows that cases are never settled without substantial litigation, and legal nurse consultants can be a valuable part of your document preparation team. Legal nurse consultants are experts at organizing and analyzing medical records for Bills of Particulars, Discovery Exchanges and Drafting/ Defending Motions, reducing stress on your office. For example, when a Motion to Discuss comes in, a nurse consultant’s report can quickly provide the basis for the defense, as well as locating the supporting exhibits. You can hire your legal nurse consultant at any point in a case to update the analysis and report they produced at the onset of the case, including current medical reports that may support or weaken your case, so you are never caught off guard. For example, if you are claiming damages for “significant scarring,” it would be helpful to be aware that a plastic surgeon’s report indicates that the scarring can be significantly reduced with a simple procedure. Knowing the flaws in your case allows you to prepare responses in advance.

Legal Nurse Consultant vs. Paralegal/Legal Assistant

Many medical malpractice attorneys employ paralegals or legal assistants to handle obtaining, reviewing and analyzing medical reports as a medical malpractice case proceeds. Sometimes they have a medical background, and sometimes they don’t, but they can usually do an adequate job with enough training. Legal nurse consultants are much better suited for these tasks than paralegal or legal assistants, and are often much more able than lawyers to understand and work with medical reports and medical data on a malpractice case. Employing legal nurse consultants is also cost-effective, because they are only paid for the work they actually do. So the answer to the question, “Do you need a legal nurse consultant for a medical malpractice case,” is most definitely “Yes.”

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