What Is Patient Abandonment?
Posted on January 22, 2021 in Medical Malpractice
When a person is undergoing treatment for an illness or an injury, they place their trust in medical providers. A doctor, nurse, or another type of medical professional will be the one to answer your questions, address your concerns, and handle your treatment. However, there are times when a health care provider may abandon a patient.
Not only can this be confusing and scary, but it can also be life-threatening. If a health care provider stops treating their patients without a reason, fails to pass along the care to another medical provider, or does not give a patient enough time to find a new medical provider, the patient’s health problems could get worse. Patient abandonment can be considered malpractice.
How does abandonment affect a patient?
In the medical community, there are valid reasons that could lead a health care provider to stop treating a patient. However, this does not mean that they can legally stop care immediately without informing the patient, ensuring a continuity of care, or giving the patient time to seek replacement options. If a patient is not given enough time to find somebody else to treat their injury or illness, they could end up suffering more due to a lack of treatment.
Does abandonment rise to the level of medical malpractice?
It is crucial to understand whether or not patient abandonment rises to the level of medical malpractice. This will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular situation. A skilled medical malpractice attorney will be able to evaluate the case and help determine whether or not malpractice has taken place. In general, the following will need to be proven in order for patient abandonment to rise to the level of medical malpractice:
- There was an established provider-patient relationship between the two parties. There are various types of medical providers that could be guilty of patient abandonment, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, other specialists, etc.
- When the patient needed medical care, or was already undergoing medical care, the health care provider abandoned them.
- The nature of the abandonment left the patient with no time to find an adequate replacement for the care they were already receiving. It is important to point out that the original medical provider is not responsible for picking a new medical provider. However, they do need to give their patient enough time to find another medical provider to work with. The original provider could also make recommendations or help direct the patient to other resources that can help them find a new treatment plan.
- The health care provider’s abandonment led to the patient’s injuries or illness (or caused the injuries or illness to become worse).
Will you need to work with an attorney?
In general, proving the existence of a provider-patient relationship will not be terribly difficult. Anytime a person initiates care with a medical provider and is subsequently evaluated by the provider, this relationship is usually established. This can happen at a doctor’s office, in a hospital, at specialist facilities, etc.
However, medical malpractice cases are very difficult to prove in court. It is crucial to gather enough evidence to adequately show that the patient’s abandonment actually happened and that the abandonment led to the patient’s injuries or illness. This may involve seeking assistance from expert medical providers who can provide witness testimony in court as well as gathering all medical records and documentation related to the care. This could even involve digging into the history of the medical provider in question.
It is crucial to work with a skilled Portland medical malpractice attorney who has significant experience handling these cases. An attorney will have the resources and legal expertise necessary to handle every aspect of the case for you so you can focus on recovering from your ailment.