Medical Abandonment Law and Legal Definition

Medical abandonment results when the caregiver-patient relationship is terminated without making reasonable arrangements with an appropriate person so that care by others can be continued. An example of a legal definition states as follows:

"Abandoning or neglecting a patient or client under and in need of immediate professional care, without making reasonable arrangements for the continuation of such care, or abandoning a professional employment by a group practice, hospital, clinic or other health care facility, without reasonable notice and under circumstances which seriously impair the delivery of professional care to patients or clients."

Some of the factors considered include:

  • Did the caregiver accept the patient assignment, creating a caregiver-patient relationship?
  • Did the caregiver provide reasonable notice before terminating the caregiver-patient relationship?
  • Could reasonable arrangements have been made for continuation of care by others when proper notification was given?

In most cases, the following situations are not examples of abandonment:

  • Refusing to accept responsibility for a patient assignment(s) when the caregiver has given reasonable notice to the proper agent that the nurse lacks competence to carry out the assignment.
  • Refusing the assignment of a double shift or additional hours beyond the posted work schedule when proper notification has been given.