Have you ever wondered, What is a Legal Nurse Consultant? Because of the reality of medical malpractice and specialized medical terminology, there’s a need for professionals versed in medicine and healthcare to assist in court to help law professionals to understand the scope of medical cases being litigated.
A legal nurse consultant (LNC) is this nursing industry professional, and fills legal nurse consultant jobs or provides the service either in addition to an active nursing practice or as a full-time consultancy. Here’s a close look at what a legal nurse consultant does and how to become one.
What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?
There’s not just one answer to “what does a legal nurse consultant do?” as there are various paths a nurse can take in this career. Legal nurse consultants help lawyers gather and study medical records for court and legal proceedings in the following ways:
- Obtain medical recordsCompare medical records to allegations
- Examine medical charts for signs of tampering
- Review cases and medical records for malpractice
- Explain medical terms and procedures to law professionals
- Interview witnesses
- Act as expert witnesses
- Attend independent medical exams
- Assist with medical portions of legal documents
These jobs are usually in healthcare settings like hospitals and clinics. But health insurance companies, law firms, government offices, and medical forensics offices also hire legal nurse consultants. They can also open their own legal nurse consulting firms.
How Do I Become a Legal Nurse Consultant?
Most legal nurse consultants are practicing registered nurses (RNs). In addition to being trained RNs, legal nurse consultants may have additional training and certification from the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. This is the legal nurse consultant certification exam. Certification eligibility includes experience in nursing and legal medical consulting.
Other organizations including the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants that support this nursing specialty include the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, and the American Association of Nurse Attorneys.
Legal nurse consulting is not an entry-level specialty, as it takes several years to build expertise to be able to provide the service required by the legal profession. The legal nurse consultant certification exam is another professional certification process to maintain in addition to registered nursing. It also requires an interest in the legal aspects of medicine, which may not appeal to all nurses.
How Do I Become a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant?
To become a certified legal nurse consultant through the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, you have to have a minimum of five years nursing experience and 2,000 hours of legal medical consulting in the three years before taking the certification exam.
Accredited through the American Board of Nursing Specialties, this certification provides recognized nursing credentials LNCC.
Are Legal Nurse Consultants in Demand?
Nurse.org describes the field of legal nurse consulting as “unique” and “difficult to predict demand” but quotes the Bureau of Labor Statistics as saying growth is predicted to be 12 percent for RNs, or much faster than average. Because of the aging patient and nursing population, job opportunities in all areas of registered nursing are predicted to be good.
Because of the unique niche of legal nurse consultants, the demand for this work may exceed the availability, giving those who have moved into this practice an advantage and little to no competition.
Legal Nurse Consultant Jobs
If you don’t open your own consultancy, and realistically you probably wouldn’t do that at first, what kinds of legal nurse consultant jobs are there?
- Working in a law firm or with a private attorney – LNCs working for law firms or private attorneys will most likely be working on malpractice cases reviewing medical records and standards of care, attending legal proceedings, and acting as an expert witness.
- Working for an insurance company – LNCs working for insurance companies will most likely provide case management and audit medical bills so benefits are paid properly under healthcare policies.
- Working in a healthcare facility such as a hospital or clinic’s med/legal department – LNCs working in healthcare settings may work with the organization’s legal team investigating patient claims, reviewing medical records, and assisting with compliance issues.
- Working in legal nurse consulting firms – LNCs working in legal nurse consulting firms will have a range of work, depending on whether the firms specialize in one area such as malpractice, or working closely with insurance companies, or offer a full range of legal nurse consulting services. The job may be on a part-time, full-time, or contingency basis.