LNCtips.com: Conquering Deadlines
You just got your first assignment as a new legal nurse consultant. You're excited, but also a little nervous. You're focused on reviewing the medical records and interacting with the attorney about your findings.
However, before you start your review, you need to be very clear about the deadlines for your assignment. If you miss a deadline, you might not get another case from that attorney. Here are some tips for conquering deadlines:
* This seems obvious but ask the attorney when your review is needed. If the attorney gives you a date, ask if that's the date you should complete your review or the date the attorney will be using the results of your review. For example, if the attorney indicates that the deadline is August 22nd, find out if the attorney wants to speak with you on August 22nd, if a written report is due from you on August 22nd, or if the attorney will use your report for another purpose (such as a client conference or treater deposition) on August 22nd. If the attorney needs the report for another purpose on August 22nd, it means that you have to submit the report to the attorney prior to that date.
* If the attorney tells you to review the case ASAP, clarify what ASAP means. Does it mean tomorrow? Next week? Next month?
* Know your schedule. If you've got 3 school-age kids who need sports physicals, immunizations, and back-to-school clothes, you might not be able to deliver a rush job just before school starts in the
* If you foresee trouble meeting the deadline, ask if the deadline is negotiable. Sometimes clients can be flexible. For example, I routinely give experts several weeks to complete their review. However, if the records are voluminous or if the case is early in the litigation process, I can usually work around my experts' vacation plans and work schedules. If the deadline is not negotiable, you may have to decline the case if you're an expert. If you're an independent LNC, hiring a subcontractor to do the review for you is an option.
* Once you receive the medical records, get permission to organize them if they are paper medical records and they're in disarray. Records are much easier to review and analyze if they're organized by section and in chronological order.
* Don't get overwhelmed, especially if the records are voluminous. Set a schedule and review the records in manageable segments. For example, review all the pertinent nurses' notes, then move onto the orders, then the progress notes, and so on.
* Use systems to keep yourself on track with your deadlines, particularly after you start getting multiple cases. Your system can be as simple as writing your deadlines on a paper calendar or using an electronic calendar/reminder system on your computer or smart phone.
You're now ready to start that first case review. You'll meet those deadlines with time to spare...Katy Jones