Legal nurses are in the first place, registered nurses who have earned their associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. In addition to nursing, they receive a continuing education program in legal matters.
Who are Legal Nurse Consultants (LNC)?
A legal nurse consultant is a RN who provides consulting services to attorneys, lawyers in a court of law in cases that have a medical component. They may also work as expert witnesses in a court of law during trial; where medical knowledge and interpretation is involved.
They are employed by attorneys who want to have a deeper understanding of the medical concepts that would be termed as malpractice to patients or infringement of patient’s rights.
In other instances, legal nurse consultants are employed by insurance companies that offer health insurance, life insurance or as legal representatives of hospitals.
Courses for Legal Nurse Consultant Training Programs
Legal nurses must take a further 1 or 2 semesters to be allowed to practice as legal nurse consultants. The courses are intertwined with the principles and practice of legal nursing and legal proceedings involving the medical field. Such would include:
- Introduction to Law and LNC
This course introduces students to basic medical law and ethics. It also introduces the student nurse to the work scope of a legal nurse consultant. Students must learn the code of medical ethics, the rights and entitlement of patients while undergoing treatment.
- Criminal law and complex litigation
Future legal nurses are trained on the litigation process and how they should present truthful information when they are called upon in a law suit. Legal nurses may be representing either the plaintiffs or defendants sides but are usually observed on the plaintiffs’ suit. Legal nurses must be trained to provide unbiased information regardless of which side of the lawsuit they are in.
- The role of LNC in litigation
Aspiring LNC are trained on what information is deemed necessary in the litigation process. They made aware of what is expected from them if they are called upon to be in the litigation process
- Medical malpractice concepts
In this course, legal nurse consultants are trained on how to report in justifiable means, incidences of medical malpractice. This may be in a case where they act as witnesses in trial for a medical case. They are used by attorneys to decide whether there were incidences of medical malpractice during treatment that resulted to suffering of the patient(s)
- Interpretation of medical records and informed consent
This is a very important aspect of cases with medical references. Legal Nurse Consultants are taught how to interpret medical records to attorneys or lawyers, the meaning of written medical notes. They are trained to give; without bias, the implication of such medical notes and care plans to patients. They are also expected to interpret complex medical terminology to the court of laws when they are called upon.
- Legal terminology
In this course, Legal nurse consultants are trained on the correct use of legal terminology. Such terminology if wrongly used could lead to the lawsuit for which they are presenting getting into jeopardy.
Overall Objectives of Legal Nurse Consultant Training
i) The legal nurse consultant training courses aim at equipping a RN with professional skills which can be used in a medical legal consulting role
ii) These courses also aim at giving the RN a wider scope of practice. In this case, they have higher chances of getting better pay by either choosing legal nurse consulting as a full time or freelance career.
iii) The legal nurse training programs also widen the knowledge of nurse based on medical malpractice, legal terminology and other medical-legal related issues.
Is Certification for Legal Nurse Consultants Required?
Although not required, it is recommended that successfully trained Legal nurse consultants be certified. This will help them increase their chances of getting better paying jobs as consultants. Certification is awarded by the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification and proves your credibility to perform legal consulting.