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Medical Malpractice FAQ: What is patient abandonment, and can I file a medical malpractice case if I am a victim of it?

Patient abandonment is a type of medical malpractice that may result when a doctor ends or otherwise terminates, the patient-doctor relationship without any notice or reason, and furthermore, does not provide the patient with time to find a replacement doctor. 

Elements that Are Needed in A Patient Abandonment Case

As a medical malpractice lawyer might explain to you, whether patient abandonment has occurred will largely depend on all the facts and details of the case. Furthermore, whether the doctor is actually liable for patient abandonment will depend on the states’ laws. That being said, these cases are often very difficult to prove and will need to be overseen by a skilled medical malpractice lawyer. Common elements that tend to be required inpatient abandonment cases, include:

  • There must have been an established patient-doctor relationship. What this means is that the doctor agreed to treat the patient and that treatment has begun in some form or another. 
  • The abandonment must occur when the patient has not completed the treatment and continues to need medical care. 
  • The abandonment should be so abrupt that there is no time for the patient to find a new doctor who can take over. 
  • The patient should have suffered harm as a direct result of the doctor’s abandonment. 

Examples of Patient Abandonment

As a medical malpractice lawyer, we know of a broad range of situations that may result in a doctor terminating their relationship with a patient, and without any warning or excuse. Examples include:

The patient has not paid their medical bills and is now being refused treatment by the doctor, as well as the replacement “backup” doctor who works with the former. 

In addition to the above example, patient abandonment would occur between the hospital, medical facility, or other provided. For example, if a patient relationship existed with a nurse, and the nurse abandoned the patient, they may be liable. This form of medical malpractice can also happen when:

  • The medical facility is understaffed
  • The staff fails to follow up with a patient who missed important treatment
  • Urgent questions or advice has not been communicated to the patient
  • An appointment has been scheduled too far into the future; thereby, resulting in a condition that worsened and led to harm

When Patient Abandonment May Not Be Applicable

When you consult a medical malpractice lawyer about patient abandonment, he or she will ask you questions to review your case. In the event of the following being applicable, you may not have a case. This goes without saying you should confirm with a medical malpractice lawyer. 

  • The doctor lacks the skills or training to provide the necessary treatment
  • There are insufficient resources to treat the patient
  • There is a legal or ethical conflict
  • The patient has violated the policies or rules of the doctor
  • The patient has continuously missed or canceled appointments
  • The patient has not complied with the doctor’s orders
  • The patient has acted inappropriately towards the doctor or staff

If there is a valid reason to terminate the relationship, the doctor may be able to do so through written notice and a valid reason. Furthermore, they should be able to provide you with a recommendation to another qualified doctor. If this has not happened, or you think you have been abandoned by your doctor, it may be a good idea to consult a medical malpractice lawyer in Orlando

Thanks to Needle & Ellenberg, P.A.for their insight into medical malpractice and patient abandonment.