Patient Abandonment – Home Health Care

Elements of the Cause of Action for Abandonment

Each of the following five elements should [2]  be the gift for a patient to have a right civil reason of movement for the tort of abandonment:

1. Health care treatment becomes unreasonably discontinued.

2. The termination of health care was opposite to the patient’s will or with out the patient’s expertise.

3. The health care provider failed to set up for care through every other suitable professional fitness care company.

4. The fitness care provider should have fairly foreseen that damage to the patient could rise up from the termination of the care (proximate cause).

Five. The affected person really suffered harm or loss as a result of the discontinuance of care.

Physicians, nurses, and other fitness care experts have an ethical, in addition to a legal, obligation to avoid abandonment of sufferers. The fitness care professional has an obligation to offer his or her patient all vital attention so long as the case required it and have to now not go away the patient in a crucial level without giving reasonable observer or making suitable arrangements for the attendance of some other. [2]

Abandonment by way of the Physician Health

When a medical doctor undertakes treatment of an affected person, a remedy must keep till the patient’s situations not warrant the remedy, the medical doctor and the affected person mutually consent to end the treatment by using that physician, or the affected person discharges the doctor. Moreover, the physician may also unilaterally terminate the relationship and withdraw from treating that affected person most effective if she or he offers the patient right word of his or her rationale to withdraw and a possibility to attain proper substitute care.

In the home health placing, the health practitioner-patient courting does now not terminate simply because of an affected person’s care shifts in its place from the sanatorium to the house. If the patient maintains to want medical offerings, supervised fitness care, therapy, or different home fitness services, the attending health practitioner should make certain that he or she was nicely discharged his or her-duties to the affected person. Virtually each state of affairs ‘wherein domestic care is authorized by Medicare, Medicaid, or an insurer might be one in which the patient’s ‘desires for care have continued. The medical doctor-affected person relationship that existed inside the health facility will retain unless it’s been officially terminated via notice to the patient and an affordable attempt to refer the patient to every other appropriate medical doctor. Otherwise, the physician will hold his or her duty toward the patient whilst the affected person is discharged from the medical institution to the home. Failure to follow thru on the part of the doctor will constitute the tort of abandonment if the patient is injured as an end result. This abandonment may additionally expose the medical doctor, the health center, and the home fitness organization to liability for the tort of abandonment.



  • [3]
  • [4]
  • [5]
  • [6]
  • [7]

The attending medical doctor inside the medical institution must ensure that a right referral is made to a doctor who can be answerable for the house fitness patient’s care while it’s far being added through the home fitness issuer unless the medical doctor intends to continue to supervise that home care in my opinion. Even more critical, if the sanatorium-primarily based medical doctor arranges to have the patient’s care assumed via every other medical doctor, the patient ought to completely understand this variation, and it has to be carefully documented.

As supported by using case law, the forms of moves that will lead to liability for abandonment of a patient will include:

• premature discharge of the patient by way of the physician

• failure of the health practitioner to offer right instructions earlier than discharging the affected person

• the assertion via the medical doctor to the patient that the doctor will no longer deal with the affected person

• refusal of the doctor to reply to calls or to similarly attend the patient

• the physician’s leaving the affected person after surgery or failing to follow up on post surgical care. [3]

Generally, abandonment does no longer arise if the physician liable for the affected person arranges for a substitute doctor to take his or her region. This alternate might also arise because of vacations, relocation of the physician, illness, distance from the affected person’s domestic, or retirement of the medical doctor. As long as the care with the aid of an accurately educated physician, sufficiently informed of the affected person’s unique situations, if any, has been arranged, the courts will typically not discover that abandonment has come about. [4] Even where an affected person refuses to pay for the care or is unable to pay for the care, the health practitioner isn’t always at liberty to terminate the relationship unilaterally. The medical doctor has to nonetheless take steps to have the patient’s care assumed by way of any other [5] or to provide a sufficiently affordable period of time to find any other previous to ceasing to provide care.

Although the maximum of the instances discussed the problem the medical doctor-patient courting, as mentioned previously, the same ideas apply to all health care vendors. Furthermore, because the care rendered by the house fitness enterprise is supplied pursuant to a medical doctor’s plan of care, even if the affected person sued the doctor for abandonment because of the movements (or inactions of the home fitness enterprise’s personnel), the doctor may additionally are seeking for indemnification from the house health issues. [6]


Similar standards to those that follow to physicians apply to the home fitness expert and the home health provider. A domestic fitness corporation, as the direct company of care to the homebound patient, can be held to the equal felony duty and duty to supply care that addresses the patient’s desires as is the health practitioner. Furthermore, there can be each a felony and a moral obligation to keep handing over care, if the affected person has no options. A moral responsibility may additionally still exist to the affected person despite the fact that the home fitness company has fulfilled all legal duties. [7]

When a home health provider furnishes remedy to a patient, the duty to maintain providing care to the affected person is an obligation owed with the aid of the company itself and not via the person professional who may be the worker or the contractor of the business enterprise. The home health company does now not have a responsibility to retain presenting the same nurse, therapist, or aide to the affected person throughout the route of remedy, so long as the company maintains to use suitable, ready employees to manage the course of treatment consistent with the plan of care. From the angle of patient pride and continuity of care, it may be inside the nice hobbies of the house health issues to try and provide the same character practitioner to the patient. The improvement of a non-public relationship with the issuer’s employees may improve communications and a greater degree of agree with and compliance on the part of the affected person. It should help to alleviate among the troubles that stand up inside the health care’ placing.

If the affected person requests replacement of a particular nurse, therapist, technician, or domestic health aide, the house fitness issuer still has a responsibility to offer care to the affected person, unless the affected person also specifically states he or she does not desire the company’s carrier. Home fitness agency supervisors must continually follow up on such affected person requests to decide the motives concerning the dismissal, to hit upon “problem” employees, and to make certain no incident has taken location that could provide upward thrust to legal responsibility. The domestic health business enterprise needs to continue supplying care to the affected person until definitively instructed now not to accomplish that by the patient.


Home fitness provider employees may additionally every now and then come across an abusive affected person. This abuse mayor might not be an end result of the medical circumstance for which the care is being supplied. Personal protection of the individual health care issue needs to be paramount. Should the patient pose a physical hazard to the person, he or she should depart the premises straight away. The provider needs to record in the scientific report the facts surrounding the lack of ability to complete the remedy for that go to as objectively as possible. Management personnel should tell supervisory employees at the house health provider and need to entire an internal incident report. If it appears that a crook act has taken place, which includes a physical assault, attempted rape, or other such act, this act must be pronounced right away to neighborhood law enforcement businesses. The domestic care company should also right away notify both the affected person and the health practitioner that the issuer will terminate its dating with the patient and that an opportunity provider for these offerings has to be acquired.

Other less severe situations might also, nevertheless, lead the house health company to determine that it needs to terminate its courting with a selected affected person. Examples might also consist of especially abusive sufferers, patients who solicit -the home health provider expert to interrupt the law (as an instance, by using supplying illegal drugs or supplying non-included offerings and gadget and billing them as something else), or continually noncompliant patients. Once the remedy is undertaken, but, the house health issuer is generally obliged to maintain offering services until the affected person has had an affordable opportunity to gain a substitute company. The equal principles observe to a failure of an affected person to pay for the services or system supplied.

As health care professionals, HHA personnel ought to have to school on the way to take care of the difficult patient responsibly. Arguments or emotional comments ought to be avoided. If it turns into clear that a sure provider and patient aren’t likely to be like minded, a replacement provider needs to be tried. Should it appear that the problem lies with the affected person and that it is vital for the HHA to terminate its dating with the patient, the following seven steps have to be taken:

1. The instances should be documented within the affected person’s file.

2. The home health company ought to deliver or ship a letter to the patient explaining the situations surrounding the termination of care.

Three. The letter needs to be dispatched with the aid of certified mail, go back receipt requested, or different measures to file affected person receipt of the letter. A reproduction of the letter should be located inside the patient’s document.

4. If feasible, the affected person should take delivery of a positive time period to gain replacement care. Usually, 30 days is sufficient.

5. If the patient has a lifestyles-threatening circumstance or a medical circumstance that could go to pot inside the absence of continuing care, this situation must be really said in the letter. The necessity of the patient’s acquiring substitute domestic fitness care should be emphasized. Care

6. The affected person ought to be knowledgeable of the location of the closest clinic emergency department. The patient should be told to both visit the closest clinic emergency branch in case of a clinical emergency or to call the neighborhood emergency wide variety for ambulance transportation.

7. A reproduction of the letter need to be despatched to the affected person’s attending health practitioner via licensed mail, go back receipt requested.

These steps need to now not be undertaken gently. Before such steps are taken, the affected person’s case should be very well discussed with the house health provider’s risk manager, criminal recommends medical director, and the patient’s attending health practitioner.

The irrelevant discharge of a patient from fitness care coverage through the house health company, whether because of termination of entitlement, incapability to pay, or other motives, can also cause legal responsibility for the tort of abandonment. [8]

Nurses who passively stand by using and have a look at negligence by a doctor or all and sundry else will individually end up responsible for the patient who is injured due to that negligence… Healthcare centers and their nursing home  team of workers owe an independent responsibility to patients past the duty owed via physicians. When a health practitioner’s order to discharge is inappropriate, the nurses will be help liable for following an order that they knew or need to realize is beneath the same old of care. [9]

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