As early as the 1970s (and prior, though rarely recorded) nurses have been utilized in medical cases for chart review, expert testimony and translating medical jargon into comprehensible data for juries. In the 80’s it was decided that nurses, rather than doctors, were the most qualified to assess and provide testimony on standards of nursing practice. This in turn expanded the need for nurse presence in the judicial system. As a result, more and more clinicians began seeking to enhance their knowledge of the inner workings of the law. In 1989 a steering committee of nurses met in San Diego with a goal of distinguishing legal nurse consulting as a specialty practice. In March of the following year the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants was establish. The AALNC’s mission was to promote the professional advancement of registered nurses consulting withing the legal arena.
The ALLNCs collaboration with the ALNCCB and the ANA to establish a defined scope of practice as well as a code of conduct was key in advancing the legitimacy of the practice of legal nursing and helped concrete LNCs ever growing presence in the modern legal process. Legal nursing has affected nearly every corner of the medical and legal crossroads. From insurance companies vetting necessity and quality of billed care to law enforcement working with forensic nurses to review evidence in cases such as sexual assault, nurses are finding opportunity in vastly more fields of practice and expertise than ever before.
Nurse presence in the courtroom as well as their participation in the governing bodies responsible for developing guidelines and laws are continuing to build a safer legal climate for both clinicians and consumers while advancing the professionalism and value of all nurses.
Dickinson, J. & Meyer, A. (Ed.). (2020). Legal Nurse Consulting Principles and Practices, (4thedition). New York: Routledge. (Ch. 1-3)