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Merging Roles

NCJ Number
On The Edge Volume: 8 Issue: 3 Dated: Fall 2002 Pages: 1,7,8,9
Pam Lawry R.N.
Lynda D. Benak
Date Published
4 pages
This article describes the role of legal nurse consultants (LNC), specifically the merging role with forensic nursing and their effectiveness with medical, legal, and law enforcement experts aiding in a wide spectrum of criminal cases.
A Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) is a licensed Registered Nurse who performs a critical analysis of health care facts and issues and specifically their outcomes for the legal profession, health care professions, and others. As established by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, their primary role is to evaluate, analyze, and render informed opinions on the delivery of health care and resulting outcomes. In 1995, the Scope of Practice for the Legal Nurse Consultant was developed and included the practice environment, role of the LNC, standards of legal nurse consulting, and standards of professional performance. With violent crime rates rising in the United States, a new and dynamic role has emerged for the LNC. A nurse with a strong forensic background can assist on a variety of criminal or civil cases. A LNC specializing in criminal cases works as a medical investigator and explores and evaluates data gathered during the course of the criminal investigation, assists attorneys with an understanding of the pathology of wounds and injuries, and aids in evaluating crime scenes, medical reports, and evidence collection protocols related to the medico-legal issues in criminal cases. The scope of a LNC’s duties in a criminal investigation may include: (1) a review and analysis of medical records to assess the extent of the injuries to determine if the injuries support the history given; (2) a review and analysis of autopsy reports to assess the extent of the injuries and if the injuries match the history of the incident; (3) a review and analysis of police reports assessing the initial crime scene; (4) a review and analysis of forensic documentation; (5) interviews with clients, witnesses and potential experts to determine if information supports or refutes the physical evidence; (6) a review of medical research; and (7) assisting the team by providing input into case development.