Anyone who’s had a beloved doctor decide to move to another state, switch to a different field of medicine or simply retire may feel abandoned. However, while there is such a thing as physician abandonment, it’s more complex than those scenarios.
Doctors stop treating patients for a host of reasons. Sometimes they leave their practice completely. Other times a doctor and patient have such a bad relationship that the doctor feels it’s in everyone’s best interests for the patient to find another provider. However, physicians still have a duty to their patients to provide a standard of care and not leave them without treatment options.
Often doctors who leave a practice will send a letter in advance notifying their patients of the change. They generally provide contact information for one or more physicians who can take over their care or at least offer to help them find another physician. This is particularly important for patients with conditions that require ongoing care or monitoring. Failure to do that may be grounds for a malpractice suit.
Doctors can prevent legal problems for themselves by making it as easy and inexpensive as possible for a patient to transfer to another physician. That means ensuring that the new doctor gets all of the patient’s records in a timely manner and at no charge.
If a patient can provide evidence that their condition worsened because their physician “abandoned” them, they have a better chance of prevailing in a malpractice suit. That’s why doctors need to differentiate between how they handle people with immediate medical needs than relatively healthy patients who only see them for annual check-ups.
If you suffered harm because a doctor stopped treating you without helping you find another provider, or if your doctor made it too expensive to switch doctors, it may be wise to consult with a Mississippi Mississippi medical malpractice attorney to determine whether you have grounds to sue.