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Is it patient abandonment for an RN to leave a patient’s room if he tells his boss he has to leave the room and other staff is with the patient?

Question:

Dear Nancy,

Is it patient abandonment for an RN to leave a patient’s room due to a family emergency if he tells his boss he has to leave the room and there are other staff members with the patient? In my case there was a CRNA, a physician, another RN, LPN and the CST with the patient.

Harold

Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Harold:

Patient abandonment is generally defined as a unilateral withdrawal of a healthcare provider-patient relationship without time for the patient to establish a relationship with a new healthcare provider. As you can tell from the definition, it most often applies to healthcare providers — physicians, advanced practice nurses or nurse entrepreneurs in a clinical practice — who work with patients in more independent facilities.

That being said, there has been an application of the term to situations where a nurse in an acute care setting leaves his or her assignment without coverage for continued care of the patient. In addition, the nurse in such a situation does not report off to an administrative member (e.g., nursing supervisor) who has been identified as the one to whom the nurse must inform about leaving
the assignment.

The situation in your question does not seem to meet the general definition of abandonment. However, as you know, your facility may have specific mandates about this issue, including such things as to whom the information about a family emergency and the need to leave must be shared, what an emergency is defined as, whether the nurse must wait until someone relieves him or her and other requirements.

You can consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who can specifically advise you about the concern you have. You could also seek information in your employee handbook that should include this issue and what the nurse who is confronted with the need to leave an assignment must do. If you consult with an attorney, take your employee handbook with you.

Sincerely,
Nancy

By | 2014-01-15T00:00:00-05:00 January 15th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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