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LNCtips.com: Retrospectoscopes for LNCs


The use of retrospectoscopes is just plain wrong.  Why then, do so many attorneys and legal nurse consultants use them?  Let me explain the reason.

A retrospectoscope is medical lingo for the process of looking at a situation after the outcome is apparent.  This 20:20 hindsight makes it easy to know what the correct diagnosis and plan of treatment should have been.  The implications for medical malpractice suits are obvious.  If a patient suffers a bad outcome or death while under the care of a healthcare provider, it's easy to pick apart every detail of the case.

Picking apart the case is not the problem.  If it were, there would be no reason to hire legal nurse consultants.  The problem occurs when the LNC cherry-picks the information so that the LNC concludes that the patient's poor outcome was the result of healthcare negligence.  For example, symptoms of confusion and dizziness are much too imprecise to designate a medical diagnosis until additional information reveals a cause.  To conclude otherwise because the patient develops a stroke the next day is an example of using a retrospectoscope.  The dizziness and confusion COULD have been signs of a transient ischemia attack, but the symptoms could also have been due to hypoglycemia, dehydration, or many other disorders.

How does the legal nurse consultant avoid using a retrospectoscope?  It's important for LNCs to remember that healthcare providers don't know what's going to occur in the future.  These providers make decisions based on the information that's available at the time.  Therefore, LNCs need to ensure that as they review cases, the review is based on the information available at the time to the healthcare providers. 

Want to learn more about LNC skills for legal nurse consultants?  Check out the Archives.

...Katy Jones