Peggy Hettick, RN, Certified Legal Nurse Consultant & Nurse Life Care Planner

Your Medical Investigator.

Bedside Manners or Medical Skills?

Posted 14 August, 2017

When you are faced with choosing a doctor, do you chose a doctor who is known for their bedside manner, or their medical skills?

Of course, the best-case is getting the whole package: a talented physician who listens and communicates well.  but there are times when one of those skills trumps the other.  So when is it most important to demand good bedside manner and when should you focus more on skill?

Bedside manner is key in your primary care doctor, where an open and long-term relationship is most beneficial to your well-being.  It's important for you to feel comfortable about sharing personal health information and for your primary care doctor to be a good listener so that he or she can get a good handle on all of the details of your health.

The same holds true if you're coping with a chronic illness that requires care over time, or if dealing with a serious condition such as cancer.  A good doctor-patient communication is very important.

Hard-core medical skills should be your primary focus in certain instances, such as a single event like surgery.  You'll have little interaction with the surgeon and no long-term relationship, so you can probably put up with a lack of interpersonal skills as long as he or she is a good clinician. 

In a medical crisis, it's great if the emergency room doctor is kind.  But bedside manner has to take a backseat to experience and skill in that scenario, especially in the middle of the night or during weekends, when ERs are under the most pressure. 

A recent survey showed patients who felt they weren't listened to or respected from medical staff were two and a half times more likely to experience a medical error such as a hospital infection, wrong diagnosis or a prescription mistake as those who felt they were treated well.   


Certified Legal Nurse Consultants act as collaborators and strategists, offering support in medically-related litigation and other medical-legal matter in a variety of practice areas.
Certified Legal Nurse Consultants have a thorough understanding of anatomy, physiology, medical treatment and the disease processes. With their medical knowledge, extensive clinical experience, and their legal training they are able to offer unbiased, evaluations of circumstances surrounding a medical mishap, accident, failure to properly care, and so on. The CLNC plays a powerful role in the litigation process by bridging the gap between medicine and the judicial system.
Five top responsibilities of the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant include:

1. Reviewing Medical Records

Searching for the medical and nursing issues relevant to a case, CLNC’s review medical records to help determine whether professional negligence occurred, to summarize injuries and treatment and to identify any missing or tampered records. Medical records also offer a CLNC’s insight into the standard of health care provided to a client.

2. Educating Colleagues

In the process of deciphering a case, CLNC’s educate attorneys regarding medical facts, timelines, treatments, nursing terminology and other relevant health care information. Furthermore, their legal nurse consultant degree and experience gives them the background to serve liaisons between the attorneys, physicians and clients involved in a particular case or claim.

3. Investigating Cases

investigation plays a major role in the world of legal nurse consulting. As case investigators, CLNC’s may provide professional services such as these:

• Research compensation and disability claims to determine whether claims have merit

• Examine cases involving fraud and abuse of government funded agencies, including Medicare and Medicaid

• Conduct inquires into potential misconduct on the part of a health care practitioner or facility

4. Preparing for Trials

For cases that go to trial, CLNC’s may prepare medical fact reports and summaries, chronologies of medical events, graphic exhibits and other evidence. They may also draft questions for attorneys to use during medical depositions, interview parties involved in a case and prepare witnesses for testifying at trial.

5. Testifying as an Expert Witness

Attorneys may call CLNC’s experts as witnesses at trial to provide facts, data and opinions based on case evidence. Along with offering testimony, a legal nurse consultant’s job may involve location and retaining expert witnesses who can offer specialized insight and knowledge relevant to the circumstances of a case.



A Certified Legal Nurse Consultant is a registered nurse who uses their expertise as a health care provider and who has specialized training to consult on medical-related legal cases. They assist attorneys in reviewing medical records and understanding medical terminology and healthcare issues to achieve the best results for their clients. They are qualified to answer questions, provide opinions, research topics and assist in developing the medical-related issues of many types of cases.

Examples of such cases are:

• Family law (e.g., custody battles)
• Probate (e.g., competency is issue)
• School health (e.g., injury of child while crossing street, sexual assault by teacher)
• Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
• Social Security benefit issues
• Medicare benefit issues
• Right to die
• Abuse cases
• Insurance (e.g., reasonableness of a medical bill, relationship of a medical bill to the alleged damages or injuries)
• Bad faith litigation against insurance company for failure to claim or for denial of access to specific care or treatment)
• Elder issues (e.g., abuse, conservatorship)

A Certified Legal Nurse Consultant bridges gaps in an attorney’s knowledge. While the attorney is an expert on legal issues, the CLNC is the expert on nursing and the healthcare system and its inner workings.

A Certified Legal Nurse Consultant differs from a paralegal in that a paralegal assists attorneys in the delivery of legal services and frequently requires a legal education, while the CLNC is first and foremost a practitioner of nursing, and legal education is not necessarily a prerequisite. CLNC uses existing expertise as a healthcare professional to consult and educate clients on specific medical and nursing issues in their cases.

CLNC’s are valuable assets to the attorney. Please follow me on my next blog…The Role Of The CLNC.

The Nurse Life Care Planner

Posted 19 May, 2016

Nurse Life Care Planners create healthcare roadmaps. These nurses help patients who have suffered catastrophic injuries, chronic health problems, psychiatric conditions, neurological conditions, and other long-term disabilities. They work with patients and their families to help develop a "life plan" to best maintain and improve their overall quality of life. Patients' caregivers will know how often they need to schedule appointments, what to expect in terms of rehabilitation, and what the course of medical care will look like.

The Nurse Life Care Planner works directly with the doctors of the patient and other healthcare providers to assess current and future medical needs and services. Based on the findings, they then analyze and project the future medical cost of care for the patient over their lifetime.

The Nurse Life Care Planner advocates for the patient, especially for the one who cannot speak for their self. She will testify on behalf of the patient as to their loss of future wages, rehabilitation needs, medical costs, and more.

Nurse life Care Planners may work independently, acting as a consultant for businesses, or they may work with insurance companies, hospice groups, law firms, government agencies, and HMO's.

This fairly new specialty has become one of the most effective case management tools in nursing.