Medical legal consultants are an important part of the legal team at many prestigious law firms. They assist attorneys with the complicated medical aspects of their cases. They have inside knowledge gained from the years spent working in the medical field. The most common type of consultant would be a nurse as they have been in the industry the longest, however, recently mid-level practitioners and physicians have begun to delve into the industry as well. All of these professionals may have a combination of degrees such as a nurse attorney (JD, RN), physician assistant- attorney (JD, PA), physician attorney (JD, MD/DO), or legal nurse consultant (LNC) just to name a few. As such, the LNC is only one type of consultant the attorney can hire to assist them with their case.
A medical legal consultant can be an invaluable tool for medical malpractice, personal injury, nursing home negligence, or any area where the legal and medical worlds collide. The consultant can help save the busy attorney time and money by focusing the attorney on the most important aspects of the case.
What Does A Medical Legal Consultant Do?
The consultant can do a variety of things to assist an attorney with their case. To list a few, the consultant can educate the attorney on the complex medical issues arising in the case, organize the medical record, create a chronology and report of the relevant facts in the case, screen the case for merit, and assist locating an expert.
Chronologies can be used in a variety of ways to include getting the facts in an organized, chronological manner that references the page in the chart where the relevant document was found. The chronology can then be used as a tool during depositions to quickly find a point in the chart where the fact arose. They can also assist an expert witness with their review of the medical record by providing a concise report of the events, skipping over the unimportant material, while referencing back to the medical record so the expert can review the entire record for a more in depth analysis if desired.
The chronology can then be used as a tool during depositions to quickly find a point in the chart where the fact arose.
They can also assist an expert witness with their review of the medical record by providing a concise report of the events, skipping over the unimportant material, while referencing back to the medical record so the expert can review the entire record for a more in depth analysis if desired.
Understand the Standard of Care
In medical malpractice, the cases hinge on whether a health care professional was negligent in treating or failing to treat a patient.
It is important to understand the negligence standard of care as applicable in medical malpractice. Negligence is conduct which falls below the standard recognized by law to act as a reasonably prudent person in same or similar circumstances. There must be a duty that was breached which is the cause of the harm to the plaintiff.
There is a special duty for health care providers known as the medical professional standard of care that requires the medical professional (doctor, mid-level provider, nurse etc.) to act with the level of skill and knowledge commonly possessed by members of their profession in good standing.
This standard is measured by comparing the providers conduct with that of a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional, with a similar background, in the same medical community, and under the same or similar circumstances.
This standard is usually established by expert testimony. However, the medical consultant has knowledge of the general standards and can point the attorney in the right direction.
After a thorough examination of the medical record, the medical legal consultant can provide an opinion whether or not it is likely that the standard has been breached, which provider was involved, what they did (or didn’t do) that likely breached the standard, and what damages resulted from the breach.
Furthermore, they usually have numerous connections in the medical community whom they can ask for guidance on the standard of care for a particular specialty and can assist with locating an expert to comment and testify on the conduct that caused the breach.
Distinguish Old from New Injuries
Personal injury cases may have multiple injuries. Furthermore, clients often have a history of prior injuries, sometimes to the same part of the body that is in question for their current lawsuit.
The medical legal consultant can meticulously comb through both the old and new medical records and detect what injuries are old and what are injuries are new.
This helps determine damages by distinguishing which injuries should be compensated due to the recent accident and which are old and therefore not eligible for recovery.
There are a variety of ways a medical legal consultant can be of assistance to your legal practice as illustrated by the few examples above. There are a number of other services that they can provide; too numerous to discuss all in one post. These professionals are an invaluable asset in many prestigious law firms nationwide whether in house or as an independent contractor.
See how a medical legal consultant can help save you time and money by putting us to work for you on your next case. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!
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