Patient Abandonment – Home Health Care


Elements of the Cause of Action for Abandonment

Each 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 was unreasonably discontinued.

2 . The termination of health care had been contrary to the patient’s will or without the person’s knowledge.

3. The health care provider failed to arrange for treatment by another appropriate skilled health care provider.

4. The health proper care provider should have reasonably foreseen that harm to the patient would arise from the termination of the care (proximate cause).

5. The patient actually suffered harm or loss as a result of the discontinuance associated with care.

Physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals have an ethical, as well as a legal, duty to avoid abandonment regarding 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 patient in a critical stage without giving reasonable notice or even making suitable arrangements for the attendance involving another. [2]

Abandonment by the Physician

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

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

The actual attending medical doctor in the medical center should ensure that a proper referral is made to a physician who will be responsible for the home wellness patient’s care and attention while it is being delivered by the home health and fitness provider, unless of course the physician intends to continue to be able to supervise which home caution personally. Even more important, if the hospital-based physician arranges to have the patient’s care assumed by an additional physician, the sufferer must fully understand this change, and it should be carefully documented.

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

• premature discharge from the patient through the physician

• failure in the physician to provide proper instructions before discharging the patient

• the statement by the medical professional to the client that the health practitioner will no longer treat the patient

• refusal on the physician to respond to calls or to further attend the person

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