“Experts in their own right”

November 2015   Comments

I have been an independent legal nurse consultant for 11 years and have worked on obstetrical malpractice cases for law firms across Canada; these cases usually deal with the most catastrophic outcomes. I work now with only the most experienced lawyers. I, too, have been asked how I could “do this” to other nurses. We review cases as objective experts; one’s opinion would be the same whether reviewing for the defendant’s or plaintiff’s lawyers. Objectivity is key.

I believe that when nurses are experts in a particular field, it is their professional responsibility to offer knowledge and experience to help make sense of what occurred when adverse events result in legal consultation. If cases have merit, and lawsuits progress, both sides need expert, impartial advice and opinions. Nurses who embark upon this work should avail themselves of as much education as possible so they are prepared to enter the world of medical and nursing malpractice law; they should also have some familiarity with how law firms approach cases at various stages of litigation. A good working knowledge of legal terminology is crucial.

The field is rewarding and highly lucrative. I am certain legal nurse consulting will one day be accepted as a specialty within CNA.

– Marlene MacPhail, RN, BScN
Halifax, N.S.

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