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All Systems Go: Use of the Nursing Process in Healthcare Related Litigation

In nursing, the systematic guide for patient centered care is the nursing process. Originally formulated in 1958 the nursing process composed of assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation when used appropriately provides thorough, quality, patient-centered care. Highly translatable from bedside care to any healthcare related practice and yes, even healthcare litigation, this foundational training can be used to enhance performance as a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) through thorough evaluation of cases resulting in more efficient trial preparations and risk mitigation for attorneys.

Armed with quick thorough assessment skills, an LNC is trained to know what to look for in medical records. Are standards of care met? Did the providers in question follow protocols and perform as any other provider would have given the information provided? Is documentation complete or are there pieces missing or late entries? Is there more information needed? Assessment findings make way for diagnosis of merit and provided the claim is meritorious, planning for next steps are recommended. Are there additional hospital policies, field standards or research that may solidify or crumble the claim? What are the possible plans of action of the opposing team? What weakness or strengths does the claim have? Are there others who may have participated in or been affected by aspects of this claim? What experts in the field may beneficial to the case? Of course, a plan is only as good as its implementation and process evaluation then the ability to continually cycle the process for obtaining the best possible outcome for the client.

Though conception was meant for the nursing profession as a means of providing exceptional patient care, use of the nursing process is a vital aspect of why attorneys need the perspective of a good LNC at the very beginning of a potential case involving any aspect of health/ wellness, medicine, or healthcare. Partnership with an LNC enables the attorney to be geared to meet the specific needs of each client, each case, each time. All systems go for success.

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