Patient Abandonment – Home Health Care

Components of the cause of Action for Abandonment

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

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

Medical professionals, nurses, and other health care professionals have an meaning, and 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 may not leave the client 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 so that 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 client discharges the physician. Moreover, the physician may unilaterally terminate the partnership and withdraw from treating that patient only if he or she increases the patient proper notice of his or her intent to withdraw and time to obtain proper substitute care.

In the house health setting, the physician-patient relationship does not terminate merely because a patient’s care shifts in its location from the hospital to the home. If the patient continues to need medical services, checked health care, therapy, or other home health services, the attending physician should ensure that he or she was properly dismissed his or her-duties to the patient. Virtually every situation ‘in which home care is approved by Medicare health insurance, 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 technically terminated by notice to the patient and a reasonable attempt to refer the client to another appropriate physician. Otherwise, the physician will retain his or her duty toward the client when the patient is dismissed 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 affiliate is made to a physician that will be responsible for the home health patient’s care whilst 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 have the patient’s care assumed by another physician, the client must understand 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 should include:

• premature discharge of the patient by the physician

• failure of the physician to provide proper instructions before discharging the client

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

• refusal of the physician to respond to calls or to further attend the client

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

Generally, abandonment does not occur if the physician responsible for the client 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, completely knowledgeable of the patient’s special conditions, if any, has been arranged, the courts will usually not find that abandonment has occurred. [4] Even where a patient refuses to pay for the care or struggles to pay for the care, the physician is not at liberty to terminate the partnership unilaterally. The physician must still make a plan to have the patient’s care assumed by another [5] or to give a completely reasonable period of time to locate another prior to ceasing to provide care.

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