Patient Abandonment – Home Health Care


Regions of the cause of Action for Abandonment

All of the following five elements must be present for a patient to have a proper civil cause of action for the tort of abandonment:

  1. Health care treatment cardione kaufen was unreasonably complete.
  2. The termination of health care was contrary to the patient’s will or without the patient’s knowledge.
  3. The health care provider failed to arrange for care by another appropriate skilled health care provider.
  4. The health care provider should have reasonably foreseen that harm to the affected person would arise from the termination of the care (proximate cause).
  5. The affected person actually suffered harm or loss as a result of the discontinuance of care.

Health professionals, nurses, and other health care professionals have an honorable, as well as a legal, duty to avoid abandonment of patients. The health care professional has a duty to give his or her patient all necessary attention as long as the case required it and should not leave the affected person in a critical stage without giving reasonable notice or making suitable arrangements for the attendance of another. [2]

Abandonment by the Physician

When a physician undertakes treatment of a patient, treatment must continue till the patient’s circumstances no longer warrant the treatment, the physician and the patient mutually consent to end the treatment by that physician, or the affected person discharges the physician. Moreover, the physician may unilaterally terminate the relationship and withdraw from treating that patient only if he or she affords the patient proper notice of his or her intent to withdraw and enable you to obtain proper substitute care.

In your house health setting, the physician-patient relationship does not terminate merely because a patient’s care shiftings in its location from the hospital to the home. If the patient continues to need medical services, watched health care, therapy, or other home health services, the attending physician should ensure that he or she was properly dropped his or her-duties to the patient. Virtually every situation ‘in which home care is approved by Medicare, Medicaid, or an insurer will be one in which the patient’s ‘needs for care have continued. The physician-patient relationship that existed in the hospital will continue unless it has been previously terminated by notice to the patient and a reasonable attempt to refer the affected person to another appropriate physician. Otherwise, the physician will retain his or her duty toward the affected person when the patient is dropped from the hospital to the home. Failure to follow through on the part of the physician will constitute the tort of abandonment if the patient is injured as a result. This abandonment may expose the physician, the hospital, and the home health agency to liability for the tort of abandonment.

The attending physician in the hospital should ensure that a proper suggestion is made to your doctor who will be responsible for the home health patient’s care even as it is being delivered by the home health provider, unless the physician intends to continue to supervise that home care personally. Even more important, if the hospital-based physician arranges to get the patient’s care assumed by another physician, the affected person must understand fully this change, and it should be carefully documented.

As supported by case law, the types of actions that will lead to liability for abandonment of a patient would include:

• premature discharge of the patient by the physician

• failure of the physician to provide proper instructions before discharging the affected person

• the statement by the physician to the patient that the physician will no longer treat the affected person

• refusal of the physician to respond to calls or even to further attend the affected person

• the physician’s leaving the affected person after surgery or failing to follow up on postsurgical care. [3]

Generally, abandonment does not occur if the physician responsible for the affected person arranges for a substitute physician to take his or her place. This change may occur because of vacations, relocation of the physician, illness, distance from the patient’s home, or retirement of the physician. As long as care by an appropriately trained physician, sufficiently knowledgeable of the patient’s special conditions, if any, has been arranged, the courts often not find that abandonment has occurred. [4] Even where a patient refuses to pay for the care or is unable to pay for the care, the physician is not at liberty to terminate the relationship unilaterally. The physician must still take measures to get the patient’s care assumed by another [5] or even to give a sufficiently reasonable period of time to locate another prior to ceasing to provide care.


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