LNCtips.com: Bedside Nurses vs. Law Firm LNCs
Working as a legal nurse consultant in a law firm is very different from working as a bedside nurse. LNCs work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 and LNCs interact with attorneys, not patients. Of course, both law firm LNCs and bedside nurses analyze patient care. However, there are four skills that bedside nurses and LNCs both use, just in different ways.
1) Bedside nurses and law firm LNCs both need to set priorities. For example, bedside nurses usually assess their sickest patient first, to ensure that they can intervene before the patient gets even sicker. Law firm LNCs usually set their priorities by their most pressing deadlines. For example, a case going to trial often has more urgent deadlines than a case that's new to litigation.
2) And speaking of deadlines, both bedside nurses and law firm LNCs have them. Bedside nurses face hourly deadlines. For example, bedside nurses have to get patients ready for diagnostic tests at specific times, administer medications, etc. In contrast, the deadlines for law firm LNCs are for specific dates, and the deadlines vary by the case. For example, one case might have a treater deposition that week for which the LNC must tag records. Another case might have a telephone conference with an expert the following day for which the nurse must prepare for.
3) Both bedside and law firm LNCs perform specific tasks when their assignments change. Bedside nurses with new patients must perform certain procedures, such as admission assessments, patient education, and orientation to the environment. Law firm LNCs also perform certain procedures, depending on whether they work in plaintiff or defense firms. LNCs in plaintiff firms interview former patients as potential clients, review medical records, perform case intake assessments, and hire experts. LNCs in defense law firms don't work with patients. Their clients are doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers, whom they may or may not meet. Defense LNCs with new assignments review case allegations and medical records, hire experts, and create reports for attorneys and insurance adjustors.
4) Documentation is important for both bedside nurses and law firm LNCs. Bedside nurses chart contemporaneously during their shift, documenting their assessments, treatments, and patient responses. Law firm LNCs create work product, such as medical chronologies and summaries about their cases. However, LNCs with a caseload of lawsuits may work only sporadically on each of their cases. For example, in the law firm where I work, I typically create or update the work product on 30 cases each month. However, they're rarely the same 30 cases each month. Sometimes, cases become "stagnant" and I don't work on them for months.
As you can see, there are both similarities and differences in how bedside and law firm LNCs work.