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The Nurse Expert Witness: A Professional Legal Nurse Consultant Practice

The Nurse Expert Witness:  A Professional Legal Nurse Consultant Practice

Elizabeth Rudolph, JD, MSN, RN

Q: So who is an expert witness, and can I be an expert witness?

A: There is a difference between a witness and an expert witness. As a general rule, a lay witness, as opposed to an expert witness, usually testifies as to facts and does not give his/her opinion. A jury, however, normally does not have extensive scientific knowledge as pertains to nursing or medical issues. Because nursing activities commonly involve the exercise of professional judgment and the application of advanced knowledge, how the nurse deviated from the standard of care is often difficult for a jury to decide. An expert witness, therefore, is often used to assist the jury by offering an opinion as to whether the nurse committed malpractice or not. Specifically, expert testimony will be required to show the nursing standard of care, how the nurse deviated from or breached that standard, and how the nurse’s breach in care caused the patient’s harm. Any nurse may be able to qualify as an expert witness in nursing malpractice cases especially if the nurse has attained certification as a Professional Legal Nurse Consultant (PLNC).

Q: I have heard of a “Professional Legal Nurse Consultant” and was wondering what that is.

A: A Professional Legal Nurse Consultant (PLNC) is a nurse who is paid to review medical records and give an opinion about the standard of nursing care. The PLNC does not have to testify unless she/he wants to. Certification as a PLNC gives the nurse credibility.

Q: How do I become certified as a Professional Legal Nurse Consultant (PLNC)?

A: The two-day PLNC certification program by Jurex Center for Legal Nurse Consulting is offered in four formats: Live Course, Video Course, Audio Course or E-Course. Get certified as a PLNC at or call (901) 496-5447.

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