Tort Reformand the Legal Nurse Consultant

July 2, 2015

Tort Reformand the Legal Nurse Consultant

legal nurse consultant at workDoes tort reform limit opportunities for legal nurse consultants? Absolutely not. As the pioneer in the field of legal nurse consulting, I have watched this profession grow and flourish during the last 21 years. Throughout that time many states have implemented some kind of reform, mostly involving non-economic damages (pain and suffering). Yet in every state where tort reform is in place, legal nurse consultants are actively and successfully practicing and growing their businesses by leaps and bounds. We will continue to enjoy even more electrifying growth over the next ten years.

Here’s why:

1. The number of U.S. attorneys continues to increase annually. Currently there are 1,058,662* attorneys in the U.S. and, as the Houston Chronicle states, at least “25 percent deal with medical malpractice and personal injury cases.”

2. At the national level, the U.S. Senate said “no” to a tort reform bill that sought to limit non-economic damages (pain and suffering) in malpractice suits to $250,000. Even if the Senate bill had passed, legal nurse consultants would still have plenty of cases to work on.

3. Most medical malpractice cases legal nurse consultants consult on involve significant economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost earning capacity. These high-dollar cases will continue to keep legal nurse consultants busy.

4. Legal nurse consultants don’t just consult on medical malpractice cases. We consult on general personal injury, products liability, toxic tort, criminal and a variety of other cases. Injury cases of all kinds will be with us as long as Americans breathe. Recovery for negligent injuries and the lost wages, medical bills and the like resulting from those injuries is the American way and is an ancient right that goes back to Mesopotamia in 2100 B.C.

5. In states that limit non-economic damages, attorneys are a bit more selective, concentrating on cases with significant physical and psychological damages (not just emotional distress or pain and suffering). That means both plaintiff and defense attorneys increasingly rely on legal nurse consultants for assurance that they’re making the best business decision in each case they take on. I even see a day when it will be considered legal malpractice for an attorney not to have legal nurse consultants working behind the scenes on their cases.

Medical malpractice cases simply aren’t going away. According to a March 3, 2003 article in BusinessWeek, the National Center for State Courts found that, despite tort reform, the national volume of medical malpractice cases filed has not changed over the last five years.

One factor contributing to the ongoing flood of litigation: Medical errors in hospitals kill up to 98,000 people each year, according to a 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. That’s 268 patients per day, or the equivalent of a fully loaded jumbo jet crashing every other day. This death toll is higher than the number of people who die from AIDS, breast cancer and car accidents combined. All of the legal nurse consultants I know would actually welcome a shortage of these cases.

Where’s the Real “Crisis”?

Isn’t this “attack on America” with so many people being killed in hospitals what we should be reforming? Instead of worrying about tort reform, we should be concerned about the Dark Ages of Healthcare perpetrated by managed care and the negligent providers who kill 268 hospital patients every day.

In spite of this boom in hospital “victims,” according to the BusinessWeek article mentioned above, the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reported that over the past ten years malpractice payouts have grown an average of only 6.2% per year. Yet the Journal of Health Affairs showed that the average rate of medical cost inflation over that same ten-year period was 6.7%. This doesn’t sound like an explosion in malpractice awards to me.

legal nurse consultant medical recordsWe are not experiencing a crisis of litigation but a crisis of malpractice. The NPDB reported that from 1990 to 2002, 5% of U.S. doctors were responsible for 54% of medical malpractice payouts, including jury awards and out-of-court settlements. The NPDB breaks this down further: Of 35,000 doctors with two or more payouts during that period, only 8% were disciplined, and of the 2,774 doctors who made payments in at least five cases, only 463 were disciplined.

The severity of that “discipline” is open to question. On August 28, 2003, the Houston Chronicle reported on the case of a Houston doctor who had been sued 78 times and made payouts in 45 cases totaling more than $13.3 million. His punishment? The temporary suspension of his license. I find this especially appalling since I myself consulted on many cases against this doctor as far back as the early 1980s.

Even these “bad apples” in the medical profession don’t significantly increase malpractice insurance premiums for the rest of the doctors. The truth is that insurance companies do not make their money from premiums, but from investing those premiums. When interest rates and returns are high, the companies prosper and often reduce premiums in competition with one another. When interest rates are low (as they are now), the companies’ returns suffer, and they must raise premiums to make up for the loss of investment income. In June 2003, the General Accounting Office issued a report to Congress (GAO-03-702, available at http://www.gao.gov) which found that insurers’ pricing decisions were affected not only by their losses on malpractice claims, but also by their loss of income from investments, prior premium history and other market conditions such as market share and the level of competition.

The bottom line on tort reform is this: Research has shown that there is no evidence of rising jury awards or the so-called high cost of litigation, and that the economy is the key to rising malpractice insurance premiums.

As unfortunate as they are, high-profile litigants like Linda McDougal (the woman whose doctor conducted an unwarranted double-mastectomy) and Jessica Santillan (the 17-year-old whose doctors failed to match her organ donor) may help to educate the public. The tragedy is that the healthcare system can disfigure or kill someone and still have the nerve to ask for a cap on damages, a concept that in effect frees these paid professionals and for-profit institutions from personal accountability. Try explaining that to the injured person and their family.

As long as the healthcare industry fails to police itself, there will be plenty of work for all of us.

Inc. Top 10 Entrepreneur Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD is the founder and president of Vickie Milazzo Institute (http://www.LegalNurse.com), the oldest legal nurse consultant certification company. Pioneered the legal nurse consulting profession in 1982. She is the author of the self help book for women, Inside Every Woman (http://www.InsideEveryWoman.com).

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Vickie_Milazzo

What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?

July 2, 2015

What is a Legal Nurse Consultant

A Legal Nurse Consultant is a member of a legal team. The Legal Nurse has a vast knowledge acquired during years as a professional nurse with additional education and training combined with clinical experience to speak authoritatively about the evaluation of causation, standard of care, damages and other medical related issues in legal-medical claims or cases.

A deep and thorough understanding of the critical analysis of healthcare records and medical literature is the primary area of knowledge for the legal nurse consultant to assist in the resolution or evaluation of medical legal claims and cases.

Legal Nurse Consultant News

How is a Legal Nurse Consultant Different?

Beginning in the early 1980s, legal nurse consultants have provided needed strategies and collaboration with legal teams for support of medically related litigation and other legal matters involving health care including by not limited to:

  • Medical Malpractice
  • Long-term care litigation
  • Elder Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Toxic Tort Law
  • Risk Management Law
  • Life Care Planning
  • Forensic Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Regulatory Compliance Law
  • Civil Rights Violations
  • Medicare Set-Aside Law
  • Employment Discrimination

The Legal Nurse Consultant’s training, education, experience and resourcefulness provided extensive clinical understanding and interpretation of a variety of medical legal arenas.

AALNC - American Association of Legal Nurse ConsultantsAdditionally, you should seek an LNC (Legal Nurse Consultant) that is professional trained and in good standing by an organization certified by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC).  Board certification is required for each AALNC member via an accredited LNCC program.  These certifications demonstrate the experience, knowledge and commitment the the Legal Nurse has achieved.  Also, the AALNC nonprofit organization assures specific guidelines for the enhancement of the nurses in a consulting arena within the legal field.

The Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Is a Specialized Member of the Litigation Team

January 10, 2012

The career of nursing is one of technical medical knowledge as well as compassionate people skills. The mix of the two skill sets give nurses a rare and highly valued combination of career qualifications. Beyond the scope of patient care in a clinic or location such as a hospital or long term care facility is another aspect of nursing that can be a lucrative and highly in demand career known as certified legal nurse consultant. These professionals are highly sought after by attorneys who need their expertise in the reading of medical records and interpretation of those records and how they may relate to the facts of a case under litigation.

Legal Nurse ConsultantWhat are the requirements to become a certified legal nurse consultant? Of course the education of a nurse and the complete licensure and accreditation of the bodies in your locale are needed, the same as for any nursing program. In addition to that nursing background there are many courses that deal with the law and the legal system that are needed to get the career change on track. If you wonder what type of degree programs are available, you can easily find them by checking online in a search. There are a large variety of programs that offer the coursework needed to make the transition from direct patient care to the court room and all of the research and preparation that will be required to testify as an expert witness when called to do so.

Some of the things that are done by certified legal nurse consultants are research and preparation of documents that can be used in a trial or proceeding to support the client’s position regarding medical claims or health issues. There are a variety of case types that can require the assistance of the nurse and those types of cases can include, worker’s compensation, medical malpractice, product liability, or personal injury claims.

Certified Legal Nurse consultant jobs are well paid and the compensation is taking in to account the hours that the professional has spent in training and preparing to present their evidence to the court. This is a career that offers a mix of medical and legal expertise, and it is a fascinating aspect of the nursing field.

Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Saved Defendant Millions of Dollars on Settlement

January 10, 2012

Mediation was set for the next day. The plaintiff attorney stated that his client was severely injured during this accident and the defendant was responsible. He demanded $5,000,000 from the defendant above the $500,000 policy limits.

In response, the defense attorney clearly related the plaintiff’s ongoing complaints to his long history of HIV and hepatitis, the side effects of his medications and his noncompliance with his physician’s orders. As Susan had discovered, these facts had been documented in the medical record long before the accident, and his complaints were therefore not solely the result of the accident.

At this point the plaintiff attorney blurted out, “This case has been in my office for two years, and this is the first time I’ve heard this information.” He obviously had not used the services of a Certified Legal Nurse consultant.

The case settled for $10,000, a pittance compared to the initial $5,000,000 demand. “It was extremely satisfying,” Susan commented, “knowing my nursing expertise helped the defendant save millions.”