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Patient Abandonment

Patient abandonment is a form of medical malpractice that occurs when a physician terminates the doctor-patient relationship without reasonable notice or excuse, and fails to provide the patient with an opportunity to find a qualified replacement care provider. There are many these cases in which a doctor might terminate a relationship with a patient without a reasonable excuse.

Examples of patient abandonment occur when:

  • the hospital has inadequate staffing
  • the medical staff fails to reach out to a patient who has missed an important follow-up appointment
  • the medical staff fails to communicate an urgent question from the patient to the doctor.

There are certain common elements among patient abandonment cases that can be determined as a very fact-specific issue. First, the doctor-patient relationship must be established. This means that the physician must have agreed to treat the patient, and treatment must be underway. The abandonment must also take place when the patient is still in need of medical attention, and the abandonment must have taken place so abruptly that the patient did not have enough time to find a suitable replacement physician to take over treatment. Finally, the patient must suffer an injury as a direct result of the patient abandonment.

Not every situation where a doctor stops treating a patient leads to an actionable claim for medical malpractice.

Valid reasons to end a doctor-patient relationship include when there are ethical or legal conflicts arise during the treatment process, the patient violates the physician’s policies, or when the patient refuses to comply with the physician’s recommendations. These are just to name a few.

If you or a loved one has experienced patient abandonment, contact a Parvey & Cavenago to start getting your life back on track.


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