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LNCtips.com: Timelines

As a new legal nurse consultant, your attorney may ask you to prepare a timeline. The first thing that you should do is clarify what your client means by a timeline report. Some attorneys use the words timeline and medical chronology interchangeably. That's because both types of report identify events in date order.

For our purposes, a timeline is a type of report that identifies only key events related to the allegations over a defined period of time. A medical chronology might include notations about all medical care that the plaintiff received whereas a timeline focuses on a few facts over a specified time period. Timelines are often used as trial exhibits to show jurors key elements of the case.

Like all LNC reports, there isn't one correct way to create or format a timeline. I tend to think of timelines as horizontal or vertical renditions of key facts.

Timelines can be created in Microsoft Word or software made specifically to generate timelines, such as TimeMap. The hardest thing in creating a timeline is narrowing the focus as much as possible. To keep things simple, you may want to do separate timelines for each allegation. Let's look at a couple of sample timelines.

The first one is a timeline created for a plaintiff case using Microsoft Word. It depicts a 21-hour period over which a fever was treated ineffectively. There was a great deal of documentation during this period but only the temperature, patient mentation/level of consciousness and interventions related to the fever are depicted on the timeline. This timeline was custom-made using a 21 column table with text boxes and lines drawn to specific times on the table. If you're not familiar with using text boxes, Microsoft has  a free timeline template that is easy to use. Creation of a custom timeline is also explained on eHow.

If you create a lot of timelines, you may want to consider purchasing TimeMap. TimeMap creates professional appearing timelines very quickly. The second sample was created in TimeMap and depicts a timeline over five years. This case involved an allegation of failure of a physician to timely diagnose and treat several conditions. The Defense wanted to show that it was the Plaintiff who failed to follow through on physician referrals and recommendations. This sample timeline identifies a pattern of non-compliance with appointments and referrals.

Or you can download Microsoft Office's Timeline add-in for PowerPoint. It's free and has 10 sample templates that are eye-catching and entirely customizable.

Now that you know how to create timelines, you can use them to help explain complex events in an easy-to-understand way.

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

...Katy Jones