Legal nursing, a relatively new field, encompasses reviewing medical records and other documents in order to aid lawyers in determining whether professional negligence has occurred in a particular health care case. Legal nursing originated only about 20 years ago, and is a field that is constantly changing. The analysis of health care issues and facts by legal nursing aides the legal profession, health care consumers, health care professions and others. Legal nurses, also known as legal nurse consultants, offer support for medical-related litigation and legal matters.
A legal nurse consultant may perform a wide variety of tasks. Foremost, they act as a liaison between clients and the legal and health care communities. Valuable information and nursing knowledge is provided to attorneys for a particular case or claim. This information is gained by researching, interviewing, evaluating, screening for record tampering, reviewing medical literature, and analyzing evidence and documents. Evaluation of the case is also based on consideration of the laws governing nursing practices. The legal nurse consultant will also identify and prepare witnesses.
Legal nursing takes place in a number of settings, including law firms, government agencies, insurance companies, forensic departments, consulting firms and hospital risk management departments. Some legal nurse consultants may also work independently. The types of legal matters that legal nursing deals with include personal injury, medical malpractice, workers compensation, product liability, criminal law and others. A common role that a legal nurse consultant may perform is familiarizing a lawyer with health care and nursing terminology in order for them to better prepare for a deposition.
A legal nurse consultant must have an extensive background and knowledge in health care and nursing. Many also have relevant experience within the legal system. The education levels of practicing legal nurse consultants vary; although many have master’s degrees or higher.
To become involved in legal nursing, you will need an advanced nursing degree. Consider the legal nurse consulting certificate from Kaplan University. Or, the University of Phoenix offers the following online nursing degree programs:
» Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Master of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Or see online LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, or general nursing programs