Patient abandonment is a lesser-known form of negligence that can result in medical malpractice if the patient suffers an injury. Learn more about patient abandonment in our blog.
What is it?
Patient abandonment is "when a physician terminates the doctor-patient relationship without reasonable notice or a reasonable excuse, and fails to provide the patient with an opportunity to find a qualified replacement care provider," according to Nolo.
What are the components of patient abandonment?
There are 4 components of patient abandonment.
- The doctor-patient relationship needs to be established.
- The doctor must abandon the patient while the patient still requires medical attention during the treatment process.
- The abandonment must be abrupt, and the patient must not have had the time or available resources to find a replacement physician.
- The patient must suffer an injury as a result.
What are some examples?
- The medical staff neglects to reach out to a patient after the patient misses a follow-up appointment.
- The hospital does not have enough staff, resulting in the treating doctor and the backup doctor both not being available.
- The doctor refuses to treat a patient because the patient has not paid their medical bill.
- The hospital staff does not relay important communications from the doctor to the patient.
It’s important to remember that in all of these examples, the patient’s injury must occur as a direct result of the abandonment.
There are also a number of examples of situations that the patient may perceive as abandonment, but are not actually patient abandonment. These include:
- When the patient does not comply with the physician’s recommendations.
- When the patient violates the physician’s policies.
- The patient consistently cancels or misses appointments.
- The doctor does not have the necessary skills or resources to treat the patient.