Patient Abandonment Discussed by Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyer June 6, 2012.

There are many forms of medical malpractice. From a doctor’s incorrect diagnosis to a pharmacist’s error in prescription dosage, medical mistakes are innumerable, and most of them come with high costs – both financial and physical. These errors can lead to worsened symptoms, more severe conditions and, in some cases, death. Many can be attributed to medical negligence, when a doctor fails to provide proper care for a patient. One example is patient abandonment.

What Is Patient Abandonment?

Patient abandonment occurs when a physician or doctor abruptly stops treating a patient and doesn’t provide a referral to another medical professional who can continue treatment. Other examples include when a patient fails to receive prompt care from an emergency room staff member or if the doctor stops practicing in that area and leaves the patient in the care of another doctor without warning.

The case of Hill vs. Medlantic Health Care Group determined that "abandonment is the termination of the professional relationship between the physician and patient at an unreasonable time or without affording the patient the opportunity to procure an equally qualified replacement."

Abandonment can cause serious harm and injury to the patient, especially if the situation is an emergency or if the patient has a life-threatening illness.

Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim for Patient Abandonment

In order to prove that you were the victim of medical malpractice, you must show:

  • existence of a doctor-patient relationship;
  • your physician had a duty and commitment to continue your treatment;
  • that he or she improperly ended treatment before it was completed, without warning, and without referral to another qualified treatment option; and
  • you suffered harm or injury due to the doctor’s negligence and abandonment.

Although it’s not uncommon for a doctor to end treatment, either because the patient needs more specialized care or because the patient does not agree to certain treatment terms, it is considered negligence to cease treatment without referring the patient to a another doctor. If, after the abandonment occurs, injury or harm comes to the patient because of the doctor’s lack of care and treatment, he or she could be held liable.

To prove negligence, you will need to show that your physician failed to provide the standard level of care you would have received from comparable doctors. This may require testimony from out-of-state physicians who can testify as to how they would have acted in a similar situation. If they testify that they would not have terminated your treatment, this may prove that your doctor delivered negligent, substandard care.

Can I File a Claim?

If you have questions about patient abandonment, medical malpractice attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation.