What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?

While opportunities abound in all types of nursing careers, if you would enjoy combining legal work with your nursing background, then legal nurse consulting presents a great option. The field offers entrants the opportunity to be part of a fast-growing industry offering attractive salaries.

But, what is a legal nurse consultant?

Legal Nurse Consultant Job Description & Scope of Practice

A Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (CLNC) is a registered nurse (RN) who combines expertise in nursing practice with specialized legal training in order to consult on medical and health- related legal cases.

Most legal nurse consultants work from home as consultants to legal firms, healthcare facilities, insurance companies, risk management departments of private firms (e.g. pharmaceutical), health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and government agencies.

Entry requirements include possession of a current and unrestricted registered nurse license, significant experience in clinical nursing practice, and specialized training offered in variety of training programs.

Five Areas of responsibility for Legal Nurse Consultants:

Reviewing medical records

Legal nurse consultants review medical records to:

1) determine incidences of professional negligence;
2) summarize the extent of injuries and treatment methods used;
3) identify instances of possible record tampering.

Educate attorneys and others of legal team

Legal nurse consultants educate attorneys and other members of the legal team regarding medical facts, treatment standards, complexities and subtleties of the healthcare systems and how this relates to the present case, and medical terminology. In addition, their combination of medical and legal background permits legal nurse consultants to serve as a communication bridge between the legal system, physicians, and clients involved in the case.

Investigation of Cases

Investigation plays a primary part in the nursing career of legal nurse consulting. As case investigators, legal nurse consultants may provide the following services:

  • Investigate disability and compensation claims to determine whether they are based on authentic circumstances.
  • Review cases involving possible fraud and abuse of government programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Conduct investigations regarding possible misconduct on the part of healthcare facilities or individual care providers.

Preparing for Trials

For cases that will go to trial, legal nurse consultants prepare medical reports and timeline of medical treatment, as well as charts and graphs.  They may also create questions that attorneys use during depositions, interview parties involved in the case, and prepare witnesses for their testimony.

Providing Expert Witness Testimony

Attorneys may call on legal nurse consultants to provide expert testimony with regard to medical facts and data, as well as their opinions of liability based on the evidence presented. Along with their own testimony, legal nurse consultants may also locate other expert witnesses who can offer insight with particular aspects of the case.

Legal Nurse Consultant Education

Basic requirements to start a nursing career as a legal nurse consultant include the possession of a current and unrestricted registered nurse (RN) license and significant experience in clinical nurse practice (three years or more).

Certification as a legal nurse consultant is available through many certification programs offered in traditional classroom and online study.  One of the oldest and most respected training programs is offered by the Vickie Millazo Institute.

A graduate degree and certification as a legal nurse consultant help establish credibility and competence and may lead to greater employment opportunities and higher salaries.

Career Outlook

Of the over 1.2 million attorneys currently practicing in the United States, about 25 percent focus on the area of healthcare law making the job market for legal nurse consultants very strong in both healthcare-related and legal settings.

Legal Nurse Consultant Salary

Certified nurse consultants typically charge fees raining from $125. To $150. per hour.  As such, their services provide attorneys with a highly cost-effective method for having an expert review medical documentation, interpret medical terminology, and explain the complexities of the healthcare system.