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Can an Abandoned Patient Pursue a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Posted on in Personal Injury

Joliet medical malpractice lawyerIn Illinois and across the country, physicians and other healthcare professionals are expected to provide an adequate level of care to their patients. If a physician’s substandard care results in a patient suffering injury, their negligence could constitute medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is commonly seen in the form of surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or birth injuries. However, a doctor refusing or failing to treat a patient in need of attention can have outcomes that are just as bad.

When Does Patient Abandonment Constitute Medical Malpractice?

When considering medical malpractice, most people likely imagine actions a doctor may take that severely harm a patient. However, an often overlooked form of medical malpractice is patient abandonment. When a physician or other medical professional ends a doctor-patient relationship without giving a reasonable excuse or notice, and at the same time neglects to refer the patient to a qualified replacement, they have abandoned their patient.

Patient abandonment may occur due to a variety of reasons. For example, a physician may refuse to treat a patient because the patient has neglected to pay their medical bill, or fail to respond to a patient in need within a reasonable amount of time. Patient abandonment may also occur when a hospital is understaffed or when medical staff neglect to provide adequate communication between patient and doctor.

There are many instances in which discontinuing patient treatment is not considered abandonment. Some situations that could warrant a physician terminating the doctor-patient relationship include if a patient refuses to follow the professional’s advice, regularly misses appointments, or behaves inappropriately.

Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim In Court

Patient abandonment is grounds for physician discipline per the Illinois Medical Practice Act of 1987. If patient abandonment is established, it is possible for the physician to be reprimanded or placed on probation, or for their license to be suspended or revoked.

It is the patient’s responsibility to prove the physician’s legal liability in this case. The patient must provide evidence that a legitimate doctor-patient relationship existed, in which the medical professional had agreed to treat the patient and the treatment had already begun. It is essential that the patient proves the abandonment took place when they were in the “critical stage” of the treatment process, meaning that they were very much still in need of medical care. The patient must also prove that due to the abruptness of the abandonment, the patient did not have sufficient time or resources to find a qualified replacement to continue their treatment adequately. Additionally, the abandonment must have caused direct harm to the patient.

Contact Our Joliet Personal Injury Attorney

Pursuing a case against a medical professional or facility can pose many challenges and also places a heavy burden of proof on the victim. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to patient abandonment or another form of medical malpractice, an attorney at McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC can help you tenaciously fight the hospital attorneys and medical malpractice insurers who may stand in your way of recovering damages. Contact our Will County medical malpractice attorneys today for a free consultation by calling 815-727-0100.




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