What Is Patient Abandonment?
Posted in Medical Malpractice on January 8, 2021
Medical professionals have a responsibility to uphold a certain standard of care for their patients. Unfortunately, some healthcare workers commit acts of negligence that lead to severe injuries and worsening illnesses, severely impacting the lives of the people under their care.
Patient abandonment is one form of medical malpractice that is especially harmful. When a professional suddenly terminates a doctor-patient relationship without just cause or due notice, a patient can experience a worsening condition and severe complications. In these situations, a negligent doctor may face liability for his or her actions.
What Counts As Patient Abandonment?
The doctor-patient relationship is very important in the medical field. Certain patients, such as patients with chronic illnesses or disabilities, often rely on their doctors and have the right to continue to access the services they need.
This relationship must continue until both parties agree to terminate it. A patient can terminate the relationship at any time, but a medical professional must provide proper notice beforehand and ensure that a patient does not suffer harm due to this action. The medical professional must provide just cause to terminate the relationship.
Patient abandonment occurs when a medical professional terminates this relationship without proper notice or cause while the patient still requires medical care. There are many reasons why patient abandonment may occur, including the following.
- Nonpayment of bills
- Inadequate staffing
- Failure to reach out to a patient who has missed an important appointment
- Failure to communicate an important question from the patient to the doctor
- Scheduling of an appointment too far in the future, leading to preventable harm
Patient abandonment does not apply in situations where a patient refuses to comply with physician orders, engages in inappropriate or abusive behavior, violates a doctor’s policies, or misses or cancels multiple appointments. A doctor can also terminate the relationship if he or she does not have the resources or skills to treat the patient’s condition or an ethical or legal conflict arises.
The Four Elements of Patient Abandonment
Since patient abandonment is a type of medical malpractice, an abandoned patient may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault professional. If you believe your doctor terminated your relationship without following the proper procedures, you will need to gather enough evidence to prove four key facts.
- You had an established doctor-patient relationship with the at-fault party.
- The abandonment occurred when you still required medical attention.
- The abandonment occurred so abruptly that you did not have the time or resources to find a professional to take over your treatment.
- You suffered an injury as a direct result of the patient abandonment. This injury can include physical injuries, a worsening condition or prognosis, preventable complications, and financial losses.
Contact Us Today
If you want to file a lawsuit against a doctor for patient abandonment, contact a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will have the resources necessary to fully investigate your claim and determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit. He or she can also enlist the help of expert witnesses who can validate your claims, as well as economists and long-term care planners who can help determine the extent of your damages.
As soon as you realize you may be the victim of patient abandonment, contact your attorney to discuss your legal options.