Tempus Fugit, like E Pluribus Unum, is one of the few Latin phrases outside of the law school vernacular that remains in American’s lexicon. Latin is typically not a language taught in school these days. I remember taking Latin in high school as a base for the so-called romance languages: French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and a handful more. But to be sure, the translation is: Tempus Fugit = Time Flies
Tabula Rasa is another Latin term. It means clean slate. Just as the ball dropped in Times Square signaled the closing of the books on 2016, a new set of books began. Right then. At that moment. Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017 ended 1/3 of the first quarter of the business and calendar year. The business plans put in place weeks, months, maybe years ago should be being tracked in order to achieve that end of quarter goal.
2017 has begun unlike many prior years and has started with both positive surprises and turmoil making national headlines. After winning a campaign few expected, a new US President took office. Almost immediately after his inauguration crowds of protests began both in the US and some foreign lands. At the same time, the stock market continued it’s climb that began after the election winner was declared.
Nothing to see here.
While interesting to observe, it’s unlikely either the election or the stock market will impact your business immediately. If your practicing law, especially Personal Injury, Mass Tort and/or Class Action litigation, right now you should be focused on the business of your practice. For some the annual Legaltech conference in NYC may have been your official kick off. In the business of law, time is both your enemy and your best friend.
With each passing hour, day, week and month, time necessary to achieve your annual goals has escaped your grasp. Because there are only 24 hours available each day, your practice demands mindful management of resources. In order to accomplish the tasks necessary to intake new clients, process matters, potentially prepare for trial, and eventually close out the matter.
Your practice could be focused exclusively on a single, and likely long term, litigation i.e., a mass tort or class action suit. In that event, your case flow/workflow is the single most important item to manage. Without a process to move the matter through it’s required steps, there is no settlement, and without a settlement, time is not producing revenue. Altruistic reasons for practicing law, it’s usually not possible without an ongoing and hopefully growing revenue stream.
Where is this all leading?
It’s leading to the reality that most personal injury matters require information the client may not know or remember. Detailed information comes from the medical care providers your client has seen and may continue to see. Often for a long period of time. As such, timely and accurate review and interpretation of those medical records and summation of those details are critical to preparing the case. It results in improving the odds of winning substantial compensatory damages for your client. For contingency-based fee structures, your practice is dependent as well.
To achieve this goal, PI attorneys will require an objective interpretation of the medical reports. It would analyze pre-existing conditions that could be unrelated. It may be aggravated by the incident that brought the plaintiff to seek legal representation. Here’s where time becomes an enemy. As time goes by, client memories can become fuzzy, evidence may be lost, leaving medical records as extremely critical to the expeditious proceeding of the matter. Again, Tempus Fugit.
Reliance on retired physicians
Many attorneys will rely on retired physicians to review medical records. While a potential resource, they may not meet with the client for testimony. They rely solely on their experience having seen dozens if not hundreds of similar injuries throughout their medical career. Retired physician use may present risks due to their reliance on familiar tests and procedures. Consequently any recently adopted as standard care by the AMA and/or healthcare industry could be unfamiliar. Frequent medical equipment changes, new drug approvals, and the introduction of devices to perform needed tests, may not be in the retired physicians toolkit of expertise. Risk is introduced, and time slows as these new considerations are evaluated.
The Tempus Fugit Solution exists
Fortunately, for Personal Injury attorneys, there is a better approach. A trend in personal injury litigation that has caught on albeit slowly is quickly gaining steam. This is the role of the Legal Nurse Consultant or LNC. The LNC is uniquely trained and certified to work with the legal team. As a member of the team, the LNC can review client medical records and remain in compliance with HIPAA guidelines. Beyond training and practical experience, the LNC maintains a database of specialized doctors and nurses who can be available to provide expert witness testimony. It removes the search for specialists from the legal office staff.
The goal of the LNC is straightforward – to produce an unbiased, concise review of the aforementioned healthcare records. The LNC may ask the client about prior injuries or illnesses which could be brought up during a deposition, or at trial by the defense. Lastly, the LNC, as a virtual member of the legal staff, can provide guidance pertinent not only the matter at hand, but other similar matters whether in process or in the future.
The lesson learned here is time cannot be stretched (remember Tempus Fugit), but it can be maximized for the best possible results. Considering a Legal Nurse Consultant is something your office, your practice, your business needs to act upon now, before another slice of 2017 is behind you. Share this LinkedIn article with your staff. You’ll find they will agree with both the problem and the proposed solution of using an LNC.
Shaun Sever is the founder and owner of SPLNC & Associates, LLC, Legal Nurse Consulting. Shaun is a Registered Nurse and is certified as an Advanced Legal Nurse Consultant. Her education includes a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and an Associate Degree in Nursing.