What Is Abandonment?

Not many are familiar with the term abandonment, which refers specifically to a form of malpractice that occurs to patients. Patient abandonment happens when a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse ends their relationship with their patient without a logical reason. The patient is left without healthcare treatment and denied a proper excuse or any forewarning that the doctor-patient relationship will be terminated. Because of this, the patient is unable to find a new provider in time before this relationship ends. They are then unable to continue receiving the healthcare treatment they need. 

Patient abandonment doesn’t apply to every scenario where a patient is released. There are rules which help personal injury attorneys discern whether a patient abandonment case is valid. While every state is different, in general, these factors should contribute to a personal injury claim: 

  • The patient still requires medical attention
  • Their doctor-patient relationship is fully established
  • The patient lacked the capability, resources, and time to find a proper replacement 
  • The patient suffered damages because of the abandonment

If the patient experienced no damages, then there is no case. This means that the patient had to be severely affected by the termination of the doctor-patient relationship. However, doctors are well within their rights to end their relationship with a patient for relevant reasons, for example, if the patient is unruly. This is also the case if they give their patient notice. 

There are many ways that abandonment can occur even if the doctor provided a reasonable amount of time to end the doctor-patient relationship. 

Insufficient Finances

The doctor refuses to see a patient who cannot pay their medical bill.

Neglecting To Respond

The staff doesn’t respond to the patient who has an important message or urgent question for the doctor.

Delayed Appointments 

The staff schedules an appointment at such a distant time that the patient’s condition begins to worsen before they receive treatment.

Poor, or Lack of Followup

After a patient receives a diagnosis, the staff doesn’t follow up to make sure they get the treatment they need. 

Inadequate Staffing

When there isn’t enough staff available and the patient has to wait for a long time, this can harm the patient. 

In some instances, the patient can be held responsible if the doctor-patient relationship was terminated for a reasonable cause. 

It may not be patient abandonment if the doctor had insufficient skills for the task or if the patient:

  • Violated the physician’s policies
  • Missed or canceled several scheduled appointments
  • Didn’t follow the physician’s directions
  • Behaved inappropriately 
  • Verbally abused others

When the doctor-patient contract is terminated because the patient’s behavior was disruptive, harmful, or not in line with the clinic’s goals to improve their wellbeing, then the doctor can’t be held liable for their damages. If the patient experienced healthcare treatment that harmed them, this is also not patient abandonment but rather medical malpractice. 

You can speak with a trustworthy attorney to review your case and discover if you experienced patient abandonment and if you are entitled to compensation.