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LawHelpNow, Attorney/Lawyer
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Where can I find relevant Florida law on the subject ...

Customer Question

Where can I find relevant Florida law on the subject of "patient abandonment" Is there such a law?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 9 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance.

  1. Yes, the law does address this topic. Abandonment of a patient, in medicine, occurs when a health care professional (usually a physician, nurse, dentist or paramedic) has already begun emergency treatment of a patient and then suddenly walks away while the patient is still in need, without securing the services of an adequate substitute or giving the patient adequate opportunity to find one. It is a crime in many countries and can result in the loss of one's license to practice. Also, because of the public policy in favor of keeping people alive, the professional cannot defend himself or herself by pointing to the patient's inability to pay for services; this opens the medical professional to the possibility of exposure to malpractice liability beyond one's insurance coverage.
  2. Regarding Florida specifically, this article provides a pretty good summary of abandonment as regards XXXXX XXXXX professional relationship.
  3. Even more than with physicians, this topic often comes up in the context of nursing practice. This stems from the Florida Patient's Bill of Rights as well as general common law principles.
  4. You might find this article to also be of interest. It is a bit dated, although the legal principles are still current. It contains citations at the end of the article.
  5. A governmental agency itself may be guilty of patient abandonment as discussed in this article concerning recent legal action.
  6. One of the most crucial issues is that of "safe harbor" provided for nurses who report their concerns prior to accepting an assignment. This is the key moment; a nurse can refuse to accept an assignment to begin with, but once an assignment is accepted the nurse is legally liable for that patient's care including arranging for his or her own replacement coverage.
  7. The term "patient abandonment" is not expressly defined or mentioned in the Florida statutes, regulations, enabling legislation and practice acts creating and regulating health care occupations. However, being guilty of such conduct can fall under the general umbrella of "unprofessional conduct", which can subject the licensee to disciplinary action as well as civil liability.

If we can be of any further assistance please free to use our service again. Best wishes for a successful outcome.

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The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Dear Mr. Burt,

Your answer was good. Unfortunately it only gave me back the same articles that I had found myself in the web. I am planning to file a lawsuit but the situation is that even though I have a clear case of patient abandonment there were no health damages or injuries as a result of the abandonment. Therefore a couople of attorneys have told me that there is no medical negligence unles there is damage and it is very hard to do otherwise.   I will pay you for your work which is good even though I already had it. I will accept it after you tell me, and if you do, there is a bonus. If you can find CASE LAW, that can be uses as precedent, particularly in the Florida 11th district (Miami, dade county) area. Case law should be directly related to "patient abandonment" and/or "refusal to treat" Thanks
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq.'s Post:

Dear XXXXXjamin, This is my second reply. Apparently the first one was lost in the computers. I said that what you have found was o.k. and acceptable. Unfortunately, I cannot use it because it was stuff that I had already found on my own. I do realize that a system like this only can be expected to scratch the surface of something. I will accept your reply. What I had asked is that perhaps you can dig a little and find some relevant case law in the Miami area on the subject" patient abandonment" or "refusal to treat"/ If you feel that it is too much to ask or you do not have the facilities to do this let me knnow. Thanks