By Dan Clifford, Publisher
© The Medical-Legal News
Pamela May, an RN who is a flight nurse with an ER background, recently spoke to The M-L Newsabout her work as a legal nurse consultant. Though she was not seeking the cases that came to her, she found the LNC field interesting and is eager to return to it.
Q.: How many cases have you done and what were they about?
A.: I’ve probably done 15 cases. It was defense work involving hospitals and physicians — sometimes alone and sometimes with the hospital. The cases varied, but they were med mal.
Q.: How did you get so many cases? A lot of LNCs out there are still waiting for their first case.
A.: I think it was knowing the right people — my sister worked as a secretary for a group of attorneys. The first attorney told me what he wanted and I went from there. I didn’t do big formal summaries. I have worked for several lawyers in the same group — it was about four attorneys. I was just lucky, I think, to have my sister working for lawyers — being in the right place at the right time. I never did any ads.
Q.: When did you start?
A.: When I first starting doing cases I was in nursing school. The majority of the cases were done while I was in nursing school.
Q.: What did you do for the lawyers?
A.: Reports. I would take the record and tag them (pages), put on a sticky and a note about what I found, and why I thought it was important, and then the attorney would go back and decide for himself (the importance). This group had been around a while and was a prominent group.
Q.: Were the attorneys worried about you being a student?
A.: They did not seem to be worried. I was in my second year, so I had some knowledge. They needed me to read doctors’ handwriting, and I could read the handwriting when I was in school. I was already in the clinical phase of my training in my second semester.
Q.: Did you testify?
A.: I did not testify. What they wanted was reading the doctors’ writing and the abbreviations that they did not know a lot about. They wanted the history in the medical records and medications they were on.
Q.: Were the lawyers happy with your work?
A.: Yes! I quit pretty much doing it (LNC work) because I jumped into ER nursing. That was pretty much my devotion for about five years.
Q.: How much did you charge?
A.: All this occurred about eight years ago. I was charging $20 an hour and then the attorney gave me $25. He said I was a bargain. He was speaking of the cost of his time — that he did not have to do the work himself. I think they went through the records themselves and were getting bogged down.
Q.: Do you have LNC training?
A.: No. I have not done one (a case) in the last five years as I was so busy with my new little world that I focused on nursing. You just keep learning in nursing — I worked in different areas part time. I have picked up on insurance things, which is helpful.
Q.: What type of nurse are you?
A.: My background is critical care nursing, ER, ICU and aircraft.
Q.: Do you think you can make it if you get back into LNC work?
A.: Yes, I think so. It is a small community where I live and I think just knowing the attorneys would help. I am not sure that running an ad wouldn’t help. You have to market yourself — nurses do it all the time. Pharmaceutical companies hire nurses all the time for marketing as pharmaceutical reps. I worked for a while as a marketing agent for a home infusion company, but I did not enjoy it.
Q.: What about the financial aspect of less clinical nursing and doing LNC work?
A.: My husband would rather I stayed at home all the time! But he wants me to do what I want to do. He is very supportive. A lot of times in nursing the nurse is making the majority of the money in the family, or at least in this area.
Q.: Why do you want to go back to LNC work?
A.: I enjoyed it. I think I would be much better now. The longer you are a part of it in a clinician setting you are like a sponge. There is so much to learn.
Q.: Do you think you need training?
A.: I am exploring the possibility (of training) for a couple of reasons. One being that if this is a branch of my profession that I choose to commit to, then I feel that no training is excessive. Another reason is simply that I believe that it would make me more marketable to those who are not familiar with me. In addition, I would be able to competitively charge a higher amount than I have in the past without being too expensive. •
Pamela May is an RN in Somerset, Ky. ;email@example.com.