Once a doctor-patient relationship is established, the doctor must provide all necessary treatment to a patient unless the relationship is ended by the patient or by the physician, provided that the physician gives the patient sufficient notice to seek another source of medical care. Where a physician intentional refuses to continue care or treatment for a patient, he can be held liable under certain circumstances for any resulting injuries under the theory of medical abandonment.
In demonstrating that a physician abandoned a patient, a patient must show that (1) the physician became unavailable to treat the patient at a time when the physician knew the patient was at a critical stage of treatment, and (2) the physician either failed to provide sufficient notice to enable the patient to secure another physician or failed to arrange for a competent physician to care for the patient in his or her absence. Unfortunately, the failure to continue treatment can be just as harmful as providing negligent care and often times results in serious injury or death.
Several factors must be considered in determining whether unwarranted medical abandonment has occurred:
- Was the medical care unreasonably discontinued at a time when the physician knew the patient was at a critical stage of treatment?
- Was the discontinuance of medical care against the patient's will?
- Did the physician provide sufficient notice to enable the patient to secure another physician and arrange for a competent physician to care for the patient?
- Did foresight indicate that discontinuance of treatment would result in physical harm to the patient?
- Was actual harm was suffered by the patient?
The attorneys at Burnside Law Firm LLP have experience representing people injured as a result of medical abandonment. To learn more about filing a claim due to a medical abandonment, please contact a lawyer at the law firm of Burnside Law Firm for a free consultation.
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