The Best Offense is a Good Defense: Easy Steps You Can Take to Guard Against Medical Malpractice Claims

Law concept - Open law book with a wooden judges gavel on table in a courtroom or law enforcement office on blue background. Written by Jim Ragain

Sooner or later, chances are that you will have to face a malpractice claim at some point. While many of these claims may be without merit or settled quickly for a nominal sum, the reality is that these claims can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. In short, even if you win, it can feel like you lost. Fortunately, there are some relatively simple steps that you can take that will reduce the likelihood of facing a malpractice claim.

Informed Consent

Medical professionals understand the importance of informed consent – in many ways, it is the first line of defense against malpractice claims. Obtaining the patient’s informed consent involves explaining the nature of the treatment, whether there are any alternatives available, and the potential risks and side effects that are associated with the procedure. The goal is to provide sufficient information to ensure that the patient can make an informed decision about their medical care.

While informed consent is not an ironclad defense against any malpractice claim, failure to obtain the patient’s informed consent needlessly exposes you to liability. For example, you may face a malpractice claim involving a common side effect that would have been easily disposed of had you obtained the patient’s informed consent.

As a result, many medical providers have systems in place to ensure that informed consent is obtained with every treatment. While this is a good start, problems arise when the process becomes overly formulaic and routine. Obtaining the patient’s informed consent becomes overly focused on getting the patient to sign an informed consent form.

Doctors and other medical professionals need to remember that the information must be provided to patients in a meaningful way. Reading a script may cover the bases, but it’s easy for patients to later claim they didn’t understand the information they were provided and felt pressure to just sign the form. Here are some things you can do to guard against this:

  • Encourage patients to bring a family member or other caregiver with them who can help them understand the information being provided. This is particularly helpful for elderly patients, patients with cognitive disabilities, or patients for whom English is a second language.
  • Allow for enough time to provide the necessary information so that the patient doesn’t feel rushed. Allow plenty of time for questions.
  • Ensure that medical staff are properly trained in how to provide this information in a meaningful way. Periodically take steps to ensure that procedures are being followed correctly.
  • As much as possible, avoid technical language – provide the information in layperson’s terms.

Lastly, we recommend that you document your policy and the emphasis on providing meaningful information in as much detail as possible.

Consider Your Bedside Manner

Many patients are seeking treatment at a difficult time in their lives. They are stressed, anxious, and possibly even angry. On top of that, many of them feel isolated and alone. As a result, they tend to behave irrationally or lash out at the people who are trying to help them. Without a doubt, this can test the patience of even the most experienced provider.

That said, many malpractice claims are brought out of a sense of retaliation when patients feel that their provider was dismissive, condescending, or didn’t listen. Patients are far more likely to engage a lawyer when they feel like they have been mistreated by their provider. While a patient’s likes or dislikes are largely a matter of perception, it is a reality for them that sparks their decision to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

Providers should of course strive to be friendly and welcoming, but the most important thing is to make it clear that you are listening to the patient, trying to understand their issues and concerns, and responding to their needs. Consider holding periodic training sessions for all patient-facing providers to go over things like active listening skills and how to put difficult patients at ease. Investing in these “soft skills” may help prevent a malpractice claim down the line.

Get Your Documentation Nailed Down

Documentation errors are one of the most common sources of medical malpractice. Failing to note vitals, symptoms, and other medical data can quickly lead to serious errors that can result in stress for the patient if not physical harm. Patient records should always be accurate and up to date.

At the same time, providers should be careful that patient records do not contain extraneous, unnecessary details that could be potentially damaging. For example, a nurse’s comments on a patient’s chart that suggest that they are being a hypochondriac could be especially damaging later on.

This is another area where providers would do well to invest in continued training and supervision. Making sure that medical staff are keeping on top of their documentation and including the right information could save you a lot of time and anguish later on.

Don’t Let Quantity Jeopardize Quality

Medical professionals are under intense pressure to deliver the highest quality patient care while being economically viable. Doctors are experiencing record levels of burnout, depression, and anxiety as they struggle with balancing their economic realities with their professional obligations. Obviously, deteriorating mental health leads to mistakes that can result in medical malpractice. However, doctors who aren’t experiencing depression or other mental health challenges should be mindful of the fact that a higher volume of patients means a higher likelihood of malpractice claims. Growth is a good thing, but providers should only grow when they have the personnel and resources in place to handle that growth.

Small, Consistent Efforts Can Pay Dividends Over Time

As medical malpractice attorneys, we see malpractice claims from start to finish. The initial intake is especially informative as we get to hear the client’s story from their perspective. Patients come to us because they feel confused and alone and are acting based on an emotional response to a difficult situation. Many malpractice claims could be avoided with some additional, continued attention focused on ensuring the patient understands the procedure, listening to their concerns, and responding to their needs. Committing to practicing good patient care can go a long way toward preventing medical malpractice claims.


With over four decades of dispute resolution and litigation experience, Attorney Jim Ragain represents businesses and individuals in various types of personal injury cases including medical malpractice. He is admitted to practice in Nebraska, Montana, and the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and some of his accolades include: Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Montana, Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury, and Mountain States Super Lawyers for Products Liability.



Please also review AIHCP’s Health Care Legal & Malpractice Consulting Certification program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  These programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.

Legal Nursing and Expert Witness

Malpractice is a common occurrence in health care.  When a standard of care deviates and causes significant injury, individuals can look for recourse to the legal system to find justice.  Malpractice lawyers can help find fair and just settlements.  In addition, Legal Nurse Consultants can play a key role in helping cases through their expert testimony, as well as guidance to the legal team regarding standards of care and the details of a particular procedure.  They can create briefs and present statistics and studies on certain cases to portray how a particular health care professional may have strayed from proper standards.

Legal Nurses can supply their expertise on the stand in malpractice cases as an expert witness


There are a multitude of types of malpractices in a variety of health care fields.  The article, “UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS” by Intizzar Ali presents a detailed list of the types of malpractice cases that can occur in health care.  He states,

“Medical malpractice is a serious issue that can have severe consequences for patients. When healthcare professionals fail to meet the standard of care, it can lead to devastating outcomes. As a patient, understanding the different types of medical malpractice claims is crucial to protect your rights and seek justice when necessary. Here are six distinct categories of medical malpractice, shedding light on their unique aspects.”


To read the entire article, please click here

There are many types of issues that can lead to injury to a person.  They range from medication errors to surgical errors to even follow up errors.  They can occur in any field.  It is the particular wisdom of the Legal Nurse Consultant as expert witness that can help a case be won or loss in court.  Their opinion and expertise in a particular field allow them to testify to certain procedures as to whether they were performed negligently or properly within the standard norm of care.  They play a critical role in any malpractice case and are sought after by malpractice attorneys to strengthen cases and break down the cases of others.  Legal Nurse Consultants can serve as expert witnesses for the health care provider in defense or for the patient’s legal team.

Expert witnesses have an abundance of knowledge via advanced degrees, licensures and research within and within the field of study.  Many are also board certified in their field. Within the Daubert Standard in conjunction with rule 702,  an expert witness possess knowledge, skill, training, experience and education. Through this standard, they are able to write and supply written reports, statements and an oral disposition to help the jury come to a clear understanding of the civil or criminal case regarding malpractice (Maggio, E. 2023).

The rule demands that the expert witness’ scientific and specialized knowledge help the trier come understand and come to a proper conclusion of the fact.  Furthermore, the testimony must be based on sufficient facts and data.  Also, the the testimony must be based on reliable principles and methods.  Finally, the testimony of the expert must reflect a proper reflection of those principles, methods and facts regarding the issue.

To review, please review “Federal Rule 702: What Constitutes Expert Witness Testimony” by Maggio, E. (2023).Expert Institute by accessing here

In the world of litigation, the expertise of a legal nurse consultant can be invaluable. These professionals bridge the gap between the medical and legal fields, offering their knowledge and experience to attorneys and clients involved in medical-related cases. A legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse who possesses specialized training and qualifications that enable them to provide expert opinions and insights in legal matters. They play a crucial role in assisting with the preparation and presentation of cases, as well as providing valuable guidance throughout the litigation process.

AIHCP helps train professionals as well as nurse in both legal nurse consulting and healthcare legal consulting to learn the necessary information to utilize their skills as an expert witness in malpractice cases.  The program trains individual with case history and helps them learn how to present a case.

The Role of a Legal Nurse Consultant in a Case

The role of a legal nurse consultant varies depending on the specific needs of the case. They often serve as a liaison between the medical and legal teams, helping attorneys understand complex medical jargon and terminology. By reviewing medical records, conducting research, and analyzing relevant healthcare data, they can identify and highlight critical issues that may impact the outcome of a case. Their expertise allows them to provide objective opinions on the standard of care provided, potential breaches in that care, and the causal relationship between medical actions and patient outcomes.

Furthermore, legal nurse consultants play a vital role in the discovery process. They assist in organizing and summarizing medical records, identifying missing or incomplete documentation, and preparing questions for depositions and interrogatories. Their knowledge of medical procedures and protocols enables them to identify any discrepancies or deviations from accepted standards of care. By thoroughly analyzing the medical evidence, they can identify potential areas of negligence or malpractice that may strengthen the client’s case.

How a Legal Nurse Consultant Can Strengthen Your Case

The involvement of a legal nurse consultant can significantly strengthen a case. Their expertise allows them to critically evaluate medical records and identify any inconsistencies or red flags that may be crucial to the client’s position. By carefully examining the medical evidence, they can identify and explain complex medical concepts to the legal team and the court. This helps attorneys build a compelling narrative that supports their client’s claims and increases the chances of a favorable outcome.

A legal nurse consultant can strengthen your case. Please also review AIHCP’s Legal Nurse Consulting Program


Moreover, legal nurse consultants can provide valuable insights during settlement negotiations or mediation. Their understanding of both the medical and legal aspects of a case allows them to effectively communicate with all parties involved. By presenting the facts in a clear and concise manner, they can help facilitate a settlement that is fair and equitable for their client. In cases that go to trial, legal nurse consultants can serve as expert witnesses, providing testimony that carries significant weight due to their specialized knowledge and experience.

Common Tasks Performed by Legal Nurse Consultants

Legal nurse consultants perform a wide range of tasks to support attorneys and clients in medical-related cases. These tasks include but are not limited to:

  1. Medical Record Review: Legal nurse consultants meticulously review medical records to identify any gaps, inconsistencies, or deviations from accepted standards of care. They analyze the records to understand the sequence of events, identify potential negligence, and determine causation.
  2. Research and Analysis: They conduct extensive research on medical conditions, treatments, and procedures relevant to the case. This helps them gather evidence and identify expert witnesses who can provide valuable insights and opinions.
  3. Expert Witness Preparation: Legal nurse consultants assist in preparing expert witnesses for deposition and trial testimony. They help them understand the legal process, formulate effective responses to questions, and ensure they present their opinions clearly and convincingly.
  4. Case Strategy Development: They collaborate with attorneys to develop case strategies that align with the unique circumstances of each case. Their insights and expertise contribute to the development of a strong and persuasive argument.
  5. Trial Support: Legal nurse consultants provide support during trial, helping attorneys with the presentation of medical evidence, preparing demonstrative exhibits, and assisting with the examination of witnesses.

Key Qualifications and Skills of a Legal Nurse Consultant

To excel as a legal nurse consultant, certain qualifications and skills are essential. These include:

  1. Registered Nurse (RN) Licensure: Legal nurse consultants must possess a valid RN license, ensuring they have a fundamental understanding of medical concepts and patient care.
  2. Clinical Experience: A strong clinical background is crucial for legal nurse consultants. They should have experience working in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities, to gain practical knowledge of medical practices and procedures.
  3. Legal Knowledge: Legal nurse consultants need to have a solid understanding of the legal system, including medical malpractice laws, healthcare regulations, and litigation procedures. This enables them to effectively bridge the gap between the medical and legal worlds.
  4. Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills: Legal nurse consultants must possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills to review and interpret complex medical records and identify key issues that may impact the case.
  5. Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial for legal nurse consultants. They need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate medical concepts to attorneys, judges, and juries who may have limited medical knowledge.
  6. Attention to Detail: Legal nurse consultants must have a keen eye for detail to identify discrepancies or inconsistencies in medical records and other evidence. Their attention to detail ensures that no crucial information is overlooked.

Finding and Hiring a Reliable Legal Nurse Consultant

When seeking a legal nurse consultant, it is essential to find a reliable and competent professional who can meet the specific needs of your case. Here are some steps to follow when hiring a legal nurse consultant:

  1. Research and Referrals: Start by conducting thorough research and seeking referrals from trusted sources, such as attorneys, colleagues, or professional organizations. Look for legal nurse consultants who have experience in the specific area of healthcare relevant to your case.
  2. Review Qualifications and Credentials: Carefully review the qualifications and credentials of potential legal nurse consultants. Ensure they possess the necessary licensure, certifications, and professional affiliations.
  3. Interview Process: Conduct interviews to assess the consultant’s knowledge, skills, and compatibility with your case. Ask about their previous experience, their approach to case analysis, and their familiarity with relevant medical procedures and standards of care.
  4. Check References: Reach out to references provided by the legal nurse consultant. Ask about their experience working with the consultant, their professionalism, and the outcomes of their cases.
  5. Agree on Terms and Fees: Discuss and agree upon the terms and fees associated with the legal nurse consultant’s services. Ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the scope of work, payment structure, and any additional expenses that may arise.

By following these steps, you can find a reliable and qualified legal nurse consultant who can greatly contribute to the success of your case.

Case Studies: Successful Outcomes with the Help of a Legal Nurse Consultant

To illustrate the significant impact a legal nurse consultant can have on a case, let’s examine a few real-life examples:

Case Study 1: Medical Malpractice

In a medical malpractice case, a legal nurse consultant reviewed the medical records of a patient who suffered complications following surgery. Through meticulous analysis, the consultant discovered a crucial error in the administration of anesthesia. This error significantly contributed to the patient’s complications and subsequent decline in health. The consultant’s expert opinion and testimony played a pivotal role in proving negligence and securing a substantial settlement for the patient.

Case Study 2: Personal Injury

In a personal injury case, a legal nurse consultant was instrumental in evaluating the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Through a comprehensive review of medical records, the consultant identified additional underlying conditions that exacerbated the plaintiff’s injuries. This information allowed the legal team to pursue additional claims for damages, resulting in a significantly higher settlement for the client.

Case Study 3: Product Liability

In a product liability case involving a defective medical device, a legal nurse consultant played a crucial role in identifying the product’s design flaws and potential risks to patients. By thoroughly analyzing the device’s specifications and reviewing adverse event reports, the consultant provided expert opinions that supported the plaintiff’s claims of negligence on the part of the manufacturer. This ultimately led to a successful verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

The Potential Impact of a Legal Nurse Consultant on the Opposing Side

When facing an opposing legal nurse consultant, it is essential to recognize the potential impact they can have on the outcome of your case. Just as a competent legal nurse consultant can strengthen your position, an equally skilled consultant on the opposing side can challenge your arguments and evidence. It is crucial to thoroughly prepare and anticipate their strategies, ensuring your case remains strong and resilient.

Legal Nurse Consultant Fees and Considerations

Legal nurse consultant fees can vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, the consultant’s experience and qualifications, and the geographical location. It is important to discuss and clarify the fee structure before engaging their services. Some common fee arrangements include hourly rates, flat fees for specific tasks, or contingency-based fees where a percentage of the settlement or award is paid to the consultant.

When considering the cost of a legal nurse consultant, it is essential to weigh it against the potential benefits they can bring to your case. Their expertise and insights can significantly increase the chances of a successful outcome, potentially resulting in a more substantial settlement or verdict.

Conclusion: The Value of a Legal Nurse Consultant in Litigation

In conclusion, the role of a legal nurse consultant in litigation cannot be overstated. Their unique blend of medical and legal knowledge allows them to provide invaluable support and expertise to attorneys and clients involved in medical-related cases. By thoroughly analyzing medical records, conducting research, and offering expert opinions, they can strengthen a case and increase the chances of a favorable outcome.

Please also review AIHCP’s training program in Legal Nurse Consulting


When seeking a legal nurse consultant, it is essential to find a reliable and qualified professional who possesses the necessary qualifications and skills. Through careful research, interviews, and reference checks, you can find a legal nurse consultant who is best suited to meet the specific needs of your case.

While legal nurse consultant fees should be considered, it is important to recognize the significant value they bring to the litigation process. Their contributions can make or break a case, ensuring that justice is served and fair compensation is obtained for those who have suffered due to medical negligence or malpractice.

By harnessing the expertise of a legal nurse consultant, you can navigate the complex intersection of medicine and law with confidence and achieve the best possible outcome for your clients.

“How an Expert Medical Witness Shows Negligence”. Goguen, D. All Law.  Access here
“The Many Ways a Legal Nurse Consultant Can Serve as an Expert Witness”.  Access here
“Always a Nurse: The Legal Nurse Consultant”. Howland, W. (2020). NAQ Nursing Administration Quarterly. Access here
“Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses”.  Legal Information Institute.  Access here

Benefits of Having a Legal Nurse Consultant on Your Team

By: Dominick L. Flarey, Ph.D, MBA, RN-BC, ANP-BC, LNC-CSp.
       Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Specialist

Photo of a file folder with a document laying on top that is titled Professional Malpractice with a judge's gavel laying along side of the document

The benefits of having a Legal Nurse Consultant on the medical malpractice team has been realized time and time again by the legal world. With their knowledge and experience in the medical field, legal nurse consultants can provide critical insight into the nursing and medical issues at the heart of a case. They can break down medical terms, identify errors in medical care, and determine the likelihood of those errors causing harm to the patient. Legal nurse consultants can be the deciding factor in whether a case is won or lost. By examining the medical records and providing insight, legal nurse consultants can assist attorneys in deciding whether a potential case has merit for litigation. With their help, attorneys are able to build stronger cases and increase their chances of success. Legal nurse consultants can provide insight on many different nursing, health care and related medical issues. They can break down the medical terms in the medical records and explain what is happening in the patient’s medical care. They can identify mistakes made in the patient’s care and determine the likelihood of those mistakes causing harm. They can explain why mistakes were made and provide recommendations for how to improve the patient’s care.

These individuals bridge the gap between two fields of nursing and legal issues by employing their knowledge of nursing practice standards and regulations to assist attorneys, insurance companies, and other legal entities with malpractice cases. Specifically, legal nurse consultants provide a variety of services that encompass all aspects of litigation, including research, case analysis, and medical record review, determination of standards of care and damages assessment.

How Legal Nurse Consultants Help Attorneys Win Medical Malpractice Cases

Legal nurse consultants can help attorneys with many different aspects of a medical malpractice case. They can review medical records and provide feedback on whether the records are sufficient and complete. They can assess records for tampering and other forms of falsification. They can identify gaps in the records that should be filled and recommend additional testing that should have been done. Legal nurse consultants can assess the medical care provided to the patient and provide recommendations on how the care could be improved. They can provide insight into the patient’s condition, the patient’s response to treatments and medications, and the patient’s prognosis for recovery. Legal nurse consultants can also assess the actions taken by the medical team, including the decisions made by the physicians and the actions of the nurses and other medical staff, in their consulting role.

Legal Nurse Consultants’ Role in Analyzing Medical Records

Legal nurse consultants can provide critical insight into the medical records in a case. They can break down the medical terms used in the records and provide a layman’s explanation of what is happening in the patient’s medical care. They can identify mistakes in the medical records and determine the likelihood of those mistakes causing harm to the patient. Legal nurse consultants can explain why mistakes were made and provide assessments on how standards of care were likely violated. They can also provide insight on whether the medical records are sufficient and complete. They can identify gaps in the records that should be filled. They can recommend additional testing that should be done and provide insights into the legal implications of medical decisions and treatments. The ability to interpret and analyze medical records is essential for LNCs to effectively identify potential issues related to liability, negligence, and malpractice.

Legal Nurse Consultants’ Role in Providing Nursing and Medical Insight

Legal nurse consultants can provide insight into the patient’s condition, the patient’s response to treatments and medications, and the patient’s prognosis for recovery. They can provide critical insight into the medical issues at the heart of the case, including the patient’s diagnosis, the course of treatment being followed, and the patient’s response to that treatment. They can provide feedback on whether the medical care provided to the patient is appropriate and adequate. They are able to provide a valuable perspective on clinical matters through their knowledge of healthcare delivery, regulations, risk management and quality assurance. Acting as a bridge between the legal and healthcare professions, LNCs help lawyers better understand medical claims, procedures and treatments by utilizing their expertise in nursing, health care and law.


Legal Nurse Consultants’ Role in Assessing Medical Care

Medical laws and legal medicine or malpractice law as a group of hospital workers or doctor and nurse hands holding a justice scale as a health legislation symbol with 3D illustration elements.

Legal nurse consultants can assess the medical care provided to the patient. They can determine whether the care provided is appropriate and adequate. They can identify mistakes in the patient’s care and determine the likelihood of those mistakes causing harm. Legal nurse consultants can explain why mistakes were made and recommend ways to improve the patient’s care. Through their expertise in both legal and medical matters, they are able to provide important information to attorneys, insurance companies, and other interested parties on the standards of care and whether or not those standards were met. They may consult on medical care issues, but they are not permitted to testify as an expert witness on medical practice standards of care in a court proceeding.

Legal Nurse Consultants’ Role in Testifying in Court

Legal nurse consultants can provide expert testimony in court cases. They can provide their insight into the nursing issues at the heart of the case. They can break down the medical terms in the medical records and provide a layman’s explanation of what is happening in the patient’s nursing care. They can identify mistakes in the patient’s care and determine the likelihood of those mistakes causing harm. They can explain why mistakes were made and provide recommendations for how to improve the patient’s care. Legal nurse consultants can also explain the appropriate course of treatment being followed for the patient’s diagnosis. They can provide feedback on whether the nursing care provided to the patient was adequate. They can and do educate the jury and the judge on the nursing standards of care applicable to the case being heard. Legal Nurse Consultants (LNCs) possess the requisite knowledge and experience to provide expert testimony concerning nursing standards of care in a legal context. As such, they are uniquely qualified to serve as reliable witnesses on matters relating to nursing malpractice or other issues related to nursing negligence. It is important to note that the scope of their testimony is limited exclusively to matters pertaining to nursing standards of care.

If not testifying in court as an expert witness, then LNCs may consult with attorneys on other issues of a malpractice case outside of the scope of nursing standards of practice. They may present written consulting reports or provide verbal consultations to their attorney clients on other non-nursing related issues of a case.

Tips for Working with a Legal Nurse Consultant

If you are working with a legal nurse consultant on your case, there are a few tips that can make the process go more smoothly. Make sure to communicate well with your consultant. This can help the consultant understand your case and help you get the insight you need. Make sure to keep your consultant updated on any changes to the case or to the patient’s condition. This can help the consultant provide timely feedback and recommendations. You can also ask your consultant any questions you have as they are reviewing the records and providing insight. This can help you understand the process and get the insight you need.

In order to maximize the efficacy of a legal nurse consultant (LNC) in healthcare-related litigation, certain best practices must be observed. To this end, it is beneficial for attorneys to be cognizant of the LNC’s expertise and provide clear direction regarding the desired outcome. Additionally, open communication should be encouraged throughout the collaborative process to ensure both parties are apprised of relevant developments and can effectively collaborate to reach a resolution.

Finding a Qualified Legal Nurse Consultant for Your Case

Photo of a Stethoscope and judgement hammer or Judge's gavel. Gavel and stethoscope. medical jurisprudence.

Legal nurse consultants provide critical nursing, health care and medical insights that can help attorneys win malpractice cases. When searching for a legal nurse consultant for your case, there are a few things to keep in mind. Look for a consultant with experience in the practice of legal nurse consulting. This can help ensure the consultant understands the issues at the heart of a malpractice case and can provide helpful insight. Also, look for a consultant who has experience with the type of case you have. For example, if you have a medical negligence case, make sure the consultant has experience reviewing records from hospitals and other medical settings and can identify mistakes in those records. Also, consider contacting one of the certifying organizations, such as the American College of Legal Nurse Consulting, and ascertain if they have a list of Certified Legal Nurse Specialists in your area or who have expertise in the area of your specific case.

The Importance of Having a Legal Nurse Consultant on Your Team


Legal nurse consultants are critical members of a legal team. The benefits of having a legal nurse consultant are many and attorneys are realizing this more and more.  In summary, they can provide insight into the nursing and often overall medical issues at the heart of a case, helping attorneys win their cases. Legal nurse consultants can break down medical terminology and provide a layman’s explanation of what is happening in the patient’s medical care. They can identify errors in the patient’s care and determine the likelihood of those errors causing harm. With their expertise in the nursing and health care field, legal nurse consultants are able to provide critical insight into the patient care issues at the heart of a case. They can break down medical terminology and provide a layman’s explanation of what is happening in the patient’s medical care. They can identify errors in the patient’s care and determine the likelihood of those errors causing harm. They are expert at standards of care and identifying deviations from the standards of care. They are very valuable in assisting attorneys in establishing whether or not there was negligence in a malpractice case. Their presence on a legal team in medical or nursing malpractice is really imperative today. The number of Registered Nurse Legal Nurse Consultants continues to grow as demand continues to escalate.

While this article focuses more on the work of LNCs consulting for plaintiff attorneys, future article blogs will also address the LNC as consulting for medical malpractice work for defense attorneys as well.

Education and Certification of Legal Nurse Consultants

Registered Nurses may find the specialty practice of Legal Nursing Consulting an attractive option as a career goal. The American College of Legal Nurse Consulting offers a full curriculum of online, distance education courses that once successfully completed, leads to the attainment of Certification as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Specialist. You may view this program by accessing here: Legal Nurse Consultant Certification.

Suggested Readings

1. Always a Nurse: The Legal Nurse Consultant. Howland, Wendie.Nursing Administration Quarterly: January/March 2020 – Volume 44 – Issue 1 – p 71-73. access here

2. The Essentials of Expert Witnessing for the Radiology Nurse. Journal of Radiology Nursing. Vol 34(1);March 2015. access here.

3. Role of the Legal Nurse Consultant. The American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. access here.

4. The Value of Legal Nurse Consultants in Medical Malpractice Claims. Patricia Pagels. Plunket & Cooney. Bloomfied Hills, MI. access here.

5. How To Become a Legal Nurse Consultant (Duties and FAQs). Ingrid Monteiro. Indeed. September 22, 2022. access here.

Legal Nurse Consulting Article on Malpractice and Legal Nursing Need

Malpractice suites are a large reality in Healthcare.   When a person enters into a healthcare facility, they hope for the best.  Everyone wishes and hopes for a successful procedure and receive optimum care.  Physicians and other healthcare providers also hope to treat a patient successfully without error.

Malpractice is an unfortunate reality in healthcare. Legal Nurse Consultants can help find justice for patients

Error does happen and is a reality in the healthcare world.  Physicians, surgeons and nurses can all make mistakes.   While some healthcare professionals may be innocent, many are liable for the errors they make with a patient.  These errors are later legally fought in court with opposing attorneys whose expertise is in healthcare and malpractice law.  Legal Nurse Consultants play a large role in aiding legal teams in determining error.

So what is malpractice?  According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys there are a variety of errors that constitute malpractice.  Some of the errors include failure to comply with standards within the practice or the nature of the injury.  Was the injury caused by negligence and was it significant enough? (1)

Here are a few examples of errors; Failure to diagnose or to even misdiagnose, misread lab results, unnecessary surgery, surgical errors, improper medication or dosing, poor after care, premature discharge of patient, reporting improper patient information, improper testing, and failure to recognize symptoms. (2)

These types of errors lead to multiple malpractice cases in the United States.  Legal Nurse Consultants play key roles in determining if procedure deviating from standards.  Nurses themselves can be become subjects of inquiry if they fail to properly report and observe the patient.  It is critical for nurses to report and chart information regarding patient care.  When nurses deviate from these safe and proper practices, they can fall under suspicion if a malpractice case does occur.  Nurses can make errors but many times they can protect themselves from liability by simply properly charting.

Healthcare professionals can make errors. If something deviates from standard of care, professionals can face legal consequences

In essence, medical malpractice revolves around the concept of a breach of contract and a failure to comply within a certain standard of care.  The history of malpractice goes back to the very beginning of America’s conception.  In the case, a man sued due to his wife’s death during a surgery.  He was awarded 40 pounds. (3)  Today medical malpractice is a a common theme unfortunately in healthcare.

Today in the United States, 225,000 people die from some type of malpractice.  A 2002 review showed that 195,000 deaths in hospitals were completely preventable.   Another statistic showed that 12,000 deaths occurred due to unnecessary surgeries. (4)

These alarming statistics show the need for individuals to find the help they need.  Unfortunately, only 2 percent of those injured due to malpractice ever file a claim. (5)  While some cases may not be the healthcare providers error, there are so many cases where patients suffer due to medical error.  Attorneys and Legal nurse consultants can play big roles in bringing justice to these patients.

The malpractice firms are able to determine if standards were met and if the patient was wrongfully injured.  When this standard of care is not met, an investigation ensures.  After determining if there is plausible case that the patient was wrongly injured, an attorney begins to access the financial reward of the case.   In these types of cases, the age of the patient, the extent of injury, and the loss of earning are all calculated.

Legal nurse consultants help attorneys in determining the standards of care and if they were met in accessing negligence.   Legal Nurse Consultants help in a variety of ways.   They can investigate the case, review records and help come to a conclusion if proper care was received.  Legal Nurse Consultants can also play a pivotal role in expert testimony of cases.  Legal Nurse Consultants are heavily relied upon my numerous malpractice firms.

Legal Nurse Consultants can play a pivotal role in helping patients find justice. They are able to aid malpractice firms in identifying standards, analyzing reports and offering expert testimony

Nurses looking to diversify their career can become Legal nurse consultants.   The statistics for malpractice dictate a huge need for qualified professionals.   Nurses can take their medical and procedure knowledge to the court room.  This requires some training on the part of the nurse.   A good Legal Nurse Consulting Program can transfer a nurse into a legal aide to multiple firms dealing with malpractice cases.

Nurse can fit that need and find a alternate and side career in helping patients find justice.  Nurses can also help defend healthcare providers who have been falsely accused.

The American College of Legal Nursing can offer the training and knowledge and needed to make the jump from the hospital floor to the court room.  The American College of Legal Nursing offers online courses for nurses.  The courses are independent study.  The courses are also open enrollment.  Each course has an instructor to help aid the student through the certification process.  The student can utilize the instructor as much or as little as needed.  The student can proceed as quickly as he or she wishes.  This enables working professionals the flexibility needed to focus on their careers while they also study through the program.

The four online and independent study courses are designed to help the student understand the basics of legal nurse consulting.  The program helps prepare the student to become an efficient and successful Legal Nurse Consultant.  The final course culminates the information learned and helps prepare the student for reading and preparing briefs.  After completing the four courses, a student can apply for a four year certification.  The certification can be renewed after four years.  The student is required during that time to accumulate 500 hours of clinical and practical work, as well as 50 hours of continuing education.

The College of Legal Nurse Consulting only accepts nurses into the program.  It looks to help nurses make the transition into a successful legal nursing career.   Nurses can play a pivotal role in this vital need and their knowledge of floor procedure are valuable assets to any malpractice firm.  With a certification from the American College of Legal Nursing, a nurse can confidentially present their skill set to malpractice firms.

Please review our online program in Legal Nurse Consulting and see if it meets your academic and professional goals and needs.

If you are interested in becoming a Legal Nurse Consultant and possess the knowledge and desire to enter into this field, then please review the program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  You could then soon enter into an exciting career of Legal Nurse Consulting.


Altered Medical Records, Lose the Case: Part I

The article, “Altered Medical Records, Lose the Case: Part I”, by David Mittleman

“Altering medical records is no laughing matter and for doctors involved in medical malpractice suits it could mean the kiss of death Take for example a New York jury who recently awarded”

American Institute Health Care Professionals‘s insight:

A good review of committing fraud by altering medical records. Altered medical records can lead to law suits and more importantly personal injury.  Any legal nurse consultant should read this and know what to look for and how to prevent records from being altered.  If you feel you need more information you should study up by taking legal nursing courses.   Again this article is Highly recommended!

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A Legal Nurse Consultant

A Legal Nurse Consultant

legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse that has been extensively educated and trained in the area of health care malpractice law. They come to this position with extensive backgrounds in health care, nursing and care delivery. Their health care knowledge and skills provides them a real opportunity to be of great asset in cases of malpractice. Many law firms and self-employed lawyers are seeking the services of legal nurse consultants to assist in them in preparing for litigation of cases. The nurse works to assist the lawyers in understanding medical terms and conditions and diagnostic procedures. They review patients’ medical records and also identify deviations from the standards of care. Lawyers find that they are invaluable in assisting in such cases. Their presence in the legal world is becoming more solid. More nurses are entering this field of specialization today. The curriculums for education are very intense and the nurses spend a great deal of time studying the elements of malpractice related to deviations in the standards of care.

A group of lawyers discussing a case at a table
Legal Nurse Consultants work with lawyers everyday.

What is a Living Will?

Legal Nurse Consultation

One of the most difficult things that a family member can go through is having to make a important medical decision regarding a loved one who is unable to speak for himself or herself. The stress of making such a decision in a hospital or nursing home can be overwhelming to those making the decision. Additionally, if there is any disagreement within the family about what course of medical action to take regarding the loved one, the situation can only become worse. The living will can help relieve some of the burden in difficult times when a difficult medical decision is required.
The living will is a type of advanced health care directive used to instruct medical personnel about what measures to take on a patient who is incapacitated and unable to make informed decisions about his or her healthcare. Two other forms of advanced health care directives include a power of attorney and a health care proxy. The various directive forms work alone or in tandem to provide instruction to doctors and nurses. It is important not to confuse a living will with a living trust, which is a form of estate planning that distributes a person’s assets after his or her death. This information is brought to you by our legal nurse consultation post on our blog.
It is essential to have a living will because it informs medical personnel and your family of what kind of medical treatment you want in case you are unable to speak for yourself. This can include instructions for what you want to happen in the event of an accident that leaves you in a permanent vegetative state or instructions how to handle your medical care if you have a terminal illness which progresses to the point of you being incapacitated. A living will should be written by a lawyer to ensure that it is legal and will serve its purpose if the need arises.

Understanding the Living Will

A living will generally describes the types of treatment you desire in the event you become incapacitated. For example, if you are in a vegetative state after an accident or other medical event, a living will can instruct your doctors whether or not to keep you alive through the use of ventilators, feeding tubes or other medical means. Other treatments often described in a living will include whether to administer pain relief, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or provide hydration.
The living will only becomes effective if a doctor certifies you as being terminally ill or otherwise permanently incapacitated. For example, if you have a heart attack and are unconscious laying in a hospital, but expected to recover and regain consciousness, your living will does not come into effect. You will still receive life saving medical treatment even though your living will stipulates that you do not want life prolonging medical procedures. That is an important distinction and essential to understand. A living will only comes into effect if you are terminally ill, in a permanent vegetative state or permanently mentally incapacitated.
If the situation ever arises where you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself, but your medical condition is not terminal or permanent, you should use a health care power of attorney or a health care proxy. Either one of these documents allow you to provide a third party, usually a family member or close friend, the legal authority to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to express your wishes.
Being proactive and having both a health care proxy and the living will is both a responsible and loving thing to do. It removes the burden of making extremely difficult decisions from your family members if and when the time arrives. You do not need to be terminally ill to have the living will.

Creating a Living Will

To set up the living will and health care power of attorney, consult a lawyer who specializes in these documents in the state where you live. But before you consult with a lawyer, talk to your doctor about the different scenarios when a living will might be needed and what your options are for each scenario. It’s important to make an informed decision now, so your wishes are known in the event the living will becomes effective. Each state has slightly different variations in terminology and living will laws so a lawyer’s help is crucial. Additionally, once your living will is written, keep it in a safe place. Make sure your doctor and the person you select to have health care power of attorney know of its existence. Your living will does no good to you if nobody knows that it has been written. For more information on health care directives, you may want to consult a legal nurse consultant.

Legal Nurse Consultant As Expert Witness

While the primary vocational call of a nurse is to provide direct care to patients at the bedside, many nurses are hoping to enhance their career scope and enter into other exciting nursing fields beyond the bedside. Legal nurses have the ability to work on legal issues that pertain to nursing and also to many other health care professionals. A major role of a legal nurse consultant  is to provide expert witness testimony. In such cases, this nurse expert will actually develop a case related to officially recognized standards of nursing care. In the expert role, the nurse will then present the standards of care in the court room and demonstrate to the jury just how and why there were deviations from the standards of care. Why this type of work is research intensive and professionally challenging, the high benefits of having a nurse testify in a case has been established. Besides having skills and knowledge in issue related to nursing malpractice, the nurse must also have considerable expertise in the clinical practice area of the nursing specialty for which the malpractice case is being heard. Nurse expert witnesses are in high demand today.

legal nurse consultant
legal nurse consultant

The Role of The Legal Nurse Consultant

Whenever some medical-related litigation cases occur, it is often the job of the legal nurse consultant to work hand in hand with attorneys to be able to review and evaluate the case. They usually deal with medical and nursing malpractice, personal injuries or almost any medically-related case which calls for a sufficient medical knowledge from the field. But before anything else, perhaps you might be wondering what these legal nurse consultants are and what they tend to do for a living. To provide insight into their practice, let us take some time to understand this practice specialty.
A legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse and will be the one to perform such tasks as critical analysis of clinical and administrative practice and deal with any other healthcare issues. They act as the bridge between the medical and legal system. They often possess professional insight in both health and medical aspects and legal guidelines at the same time. However, you have to take note that these consultants are nursing experts and not merely paralegals. That is, they specialize more on the field of nursing and health care and are often considered to be experts in these fields.

 What are the roles of a legal nurse consultant?

There are indeed a lot of important roles of the legal nurse consultant. To provide you with a deeper understanding of the various important roles that a legal nurse consultant plays, let us review them.

1. Reviewing and Researching Medical Records

Medical records are among the most important things to consider in any medical-related case. As legal nurse consultants, it is their responsibility to review and research medical records which are relevant to the case. This will help in determining the type of medical negligence as well as to identify any medical records which might possibly have been missing or else tampered. The medical records in turn will also provide the legal nurse consultant additional knowledge regarding the type of service being provided to the client. They will often develop time-lines for the incident of care in question so that attorneys may better understand the process of care and determine issues of negligence.

2. Investigation and Thorough Analysis of the Case

It is very vital for a legal nurse consultant to make several investigations and analysis of a particular case. Being a case investigator, there are in fact a lot of services which a legal nurse consulting should be able to provide to his/her clients. These may include such services as the investigation of any fraud within the government funded agencies and also researching whether or not the victim is applicable for compensation and claims. They particularly focus on standards of care related to the case they are working on. They provide expert analysis on defining the appropriate standards of care and assisting the legal team to identify the types of testifying experts to call into the case for deposition and trial testimony to support allegations of deviations from standards of care.

3. Expert Witness Testimony

Attorneys frequently hire legal nurse consultants to provide actual expert witness testimony. In such cases, the legal nurse will provide a deposition and actually testimony in trials. In these cases, the legal nurse may only testify to deviations from standards of nursing practice and not issues of medical standards of care. They may be retained to provide testimony for either defendants or plaintiffs. Their testimony can be invaluable to the outcomes of such cases.

4. Deposition and Trial Consultant

It will be somewhat challenging for an expert attorney doing all of the tasks themselves regarding a particular case. That is why retaining a legal nurse consultant can be extremely beneficial. Legal nurses assist in the preparation of depositions for trial. They assist attorneys in developing appropriate questions to ask in depositions related to the medical and/or nursing aspects of the case. They are frequently seen with the attorney’s team in the court room during a malpractice or personal injury trial.

5. Research and Education

One of the primary roles of the legal nurse is to conduct extensive research for the legal team. Along with this role they also function as primary educators for the legal team. They will review and study many sources of standards of care and then educate the team on how the standards related to the case in question. They teach the legal team the meaning of important medical terms related to the case as well. The legal nurse is the health care expert on the team and her/his knowledge and research and teaching abilities are central to the legal team pursuing a litigation or a defense.

Where do they Practice?

There are many areas that legal nurse consultants practice in today. Some include the following:
In their own practices as independent contractors
In legal firms
In hospital risk management departments
In personal injury and malpractice insurance organizations
In nursing education and staff development
In government agencies
In firms specializing in trial consulting
In legal research departments
The role of the legal nurse consultant isn’t just an ordinary practice. It is a high-level practice that merges the legal world with the health care world. Over the years more and more registered nurses are choosing to enter this specialty practice. While the stress in this position is very high, the rewards and economic benefits can be excellent. Do you want more comprehensive  information about legal nurse consulting? Access here