In Use of a Legal Nurse Nurse Consultant in Client Interviews, medical insurance expert witness Ms. Kathy G. Ferrell, BS, RN, LNCC writes:
Nurses learn communication and interviewing strategies as part of their basic interpersonal and assessment skills in the first semester of training. It is a basic skill that nurses use on each patient admission (or visit to the physician in his office); on each day the patient is in the hospital and even at the beginning of each nursing shift on each hospitalized patient. We are skilled in active listening and the subsequent collection of critical data.
The rapport established between the plaintiff and the attorney and/or staff at the initial interview may have far reaching consequences in terms of the accuracy and completeness of information obtained. Plaintiffs need to believe that the attorney and staff are advocates, working on their behalf, in order to maintain a trusting and amenable relationship. During the initial interview the legal nurse consultant can:
• Use her medical knowledge and expertise to elicit a detailed, accurate clinical health history.
• Identify damages resulting from the alleged negligence of the potential defendant.
• Identify preexisting conditions which may influence the case.
• Identify other medical conditions the plaintiff may have, based on the medication history.
• Identify factors that may influence future health care compliance.
• Identify need for future medical care or evaluations which can be added to damage tabulations.
• Identify health perceptions, support systems; or otherwise view the plaintiff as a total person, rather then just signs and symptoms.
• Identify losses such as body parts, functions, independence, and any other type of physical, emotional or intellectual loss.
• Identify treating physicians, other health care professionals, pharmacies, and insurers • Identify previous involvement with the legal system.
• Identify the plaintiff’s reasons for wanting to file a lawsuit.
• Provide a clear understanding to the plaintiff of the future course of action, beginning with knowledge that the information will be provided to the attorney who will make the decision on the merits of the case.
• Educate the plaintiff that the heath care provider’s license may not be suspended or revoked in the event of a successful outcome to the case and that loss of monetary compensation may be the only effect suffered by the defendant health care provider.
• Educate the plaintiff about reasons for continuing therapies and the importance of compliance with medical plan of care.