Patient abandonment is a type of medical malpractice that generally leaves the patient in a particularly fragile or vulnerable state. It most often happens when a physician decides to "wash his (or her) hands" of a patient that is -- in some fashion -- troublesome.
Do any of these situations sound familiar?
- You were turned away from a hospital or clinic during what was clearly an emergency situation because of a lack of insurance or an outstanding bill for previous treatment.
- You were being treated in an emergency room, and your physician left without properly transferring your care to another physician.
- You were discharged while you still felt incapable of handling your own care, and no provisions were made to obtain assistance for you.
- Your physician abruptly ended his practice or went on an extended vacation without making any arrangements for another physician to take over the care of his or her patients.
- Your doctor decided to terminate your relationship over a difference in opinion about your care, but you weren't given adequate notice or time to find a new physician. The doctor also refused to continue your medication refills in the interim.
- You were discharged without clear instructions regarding follow-up care, wound care or other necessary actions.
- Your physician failed to check on you after an operation or other procedure.
In some cases, the negligence goes so far as to include "patient dumping." That's a practice where hospital personnel will simply drop a patient who has cognitive difficulties or mental health problems off at a bus stop, homeless shelter or even a street bench and leave.
If you fell victim to patient abandonment or a relative of yours was abandoned or "dumped," you may have the right to seek compensation for medical malpractice. An attorney can help you better assess your case and understand the options you have for recovery.