Legal and Ethical Implications of Patient Abandonment

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Patient abandonment is a form of neglect in which a patient is not provided with care or is provided with inadequate care. Several conditions must be present for a situation to be termed abandonment in the legal sense. Care providers are usually careful to avoid these situations of the legal and ethical liability. Examples of case law on patient abandonment and the termination of professional relationships between medical professionals and the patient, also there could be reasons that have to be mutual and then we will look at the right and wrong of medical professionals and the effects of a medical professional decision from a legal and ethical standpoint. Moreover review the importance of maintaining skills to the point of mastery and review consent whether implied or expressed along with confidentiality, documentation and the security of information.
1.) Patient abandonment
a. Withdrawing treatment without giving patient prior notice
b. Must have legit reasons for ceasing treatment
c. Exceeds expertise of health care
d. Except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve (AMA pg. 101)
2.) Examples of some case laws on patient abandonment.
a. Patient abandonment is a form of medical malpractice.
b. Abandonment is the termination of the professional relationship between doctor and patient.
c. Abandonment generally means unilateral severance of professional relationship between doctor and patient without reasonable notice.

3.) Reasons for withdrawal
a. Noncompliance
The doctor moves or retires
Fall in love
b. The doctor cannot transfer the care of a patient or an associate without the patient’s consent.
c. When a doctor abandons a patient no good comes ...

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...regiver a full report on the patient’s condition.
Only then can the patient be transferred or discharged from the care of the attending doctor or nurse, until that is completed the patient is the treating doctor or nurse’s responsibility. The health professional has to remember their


Regulation of Health Professions – Uniform Disciplinary Act (RCW 18.130)
Violations of Standards of Nursing Conduct or Practice (WAC 246-840-710):
Nursing Care – (RCW 18.79)

Jones Bartlett Publishers: Right or Wrong Legal and Ethical Issues in Decision-Making (Ch 3)

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