If you have an existing doctor-patient relationship, your doctor has a duty to make certain that you receive any critical, ongoing care that you need. Failing to do so is considered patient abandonment — which is a type of medical malpractice.
Patient abandonment can be obvious — when your doctor suddenly drops you from his or her practice without adequate warning or time to find a replacement physician — but it can also be so subtle that patients may not even realize that they’re being mistreated:
— Your doctor goes on an extended vacation and doesn’t arrange for anyone to cover his or her patients, causing you to run out of critical blood pressure medication.
— Your surgeon doesn’t bother to give you critical post-surgical instructions on wound care, and you develop an infection as a result.
— Your insurance disputes a charge, leaving you with an unexpected balance at the surgeon’s office. Because you can’t afford to pay it, the surgeon refuses to see you for follow-up visits.
— Your doctor prescribes an antidepressant that has serious, known side-effects, but he doesn’t ask you to come back for a follow-up appointment for the usual six months.
— Your obstetrician promises to be there when you deliver your baby, but you end up with his or her partner because the obstetrician’s son has a ball game the day you deliver. You had no warning that your obstetrician ever hands off deliveries.
— You tell the doctor at a hospital that you don’t think you’re stable enough to be discharged after surgery, but he or she bows to pressure from the insurance company and releases you anyhow. You later have to be readmitted due to reoccurring symptoms.
— Your doctor advises you to go directly to the hospital from his or her office but doesn’t call the hospital to explain why you need care, take any steps to secure your admittance, or follow up to see if you received proper care.
These are just some of the examples of the way that physicians can fail to deliver critical, continuous care, leaving patients distressed, injured and untreated.
If you’ve been the victim of malpractice through patient abandonment, consider seeking legal help today. For information on how our firm approaches medical malpractice cases, please visit our page.