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LNCtips.com: 4 Steps to Prevent Analysis Paralysis

Seasoned legal nurse consultants pay attention to details because details make the difference in the success or failure of legal cases. Unfortunately, excessive attention to details can create a big problem for new legal nurse consultants who are reviewing their first cases. That problem is analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis can result from over-thinking or over-analyzing the medical records. Legal nurse consultants with analysis paralysis spend inordinate amounts of time reviewing records, researching medical conditions, and hashing out the details of the case before they produce their written or verbal report. If this describes you, here are few steps to help prevent analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis occurs because new legal nurse consultants want to do a good job, they're indecisive about what to do, and they lack confidence in their abilities. After all, reviewing records is a new skill, right?  Not really. Nurses use medical records every day so the first step when reviewing your first case is to remember that you already know how to review records. Just remember that you're looking for the "4 Ds" of medical malpractice (Duty, Dereliction of Duty, Direct Causation, and Damages) in addition to the medical elements of the case.

The second step is to research the medical aspects of the allegations so that you know what to look for. If you're working for plaintiffs, they or their attorneys will tell you their concerns about the medical care. If you're working for the defense, the allegations will be outlined in an affidavit, certificate of merit or Complaint. Two hours of research is more than enough time to gain an understanding of the signs, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications, and prognosis of most medical conditions. Since research is a major part of analysis paralysis, set a timer and stick to it. My experience is that new legal nurse consultants (and some experienced ones as well) really like to learn the medicine so they spend much more time on research than they need to.  One thing leads to another, and then another, and then another.

The third step is to, as Nike says, "Just do it." Review the records, focusing your analysis on the allegations. At the same time, keep track of your observations in the work product (medical chronology, medical summary, or notes) specified by your attorney. Don't read all the records first, re-read the records again and then add your findings to your written work product. If you're doing a thorough review, trust your instincts that you are noting the important information the first time you read it and then move on. Trusting your instincts is a way of learning to make decisions. If you can't decide if a piece of information is important or not, give yourself 5 seconds to decide and then move on.

The last step is to check your written work product or notes. Did you include information that doesn't have a bearing on the case? If so, delete it. Did you include information about the allegations which either supports or denies them? If not, go back to review a specific part of the medical records but resist the urge to repeatedly review them.

Stop over-thinking and start taking action. You can do this!

Want to learn about LNC skills?  Check out the Archives.

...Katy Jones