Can a director of nursing be accused of patient abandonment if they resign on the spot?

By | 2015-08-13T16:24:42-04:00 August 14th, 2015|2 Comments

Dear Nancy,

Can a director of nursing at a home health agency be accused of patient abandonment if they resign on the spot?


Dear Tracy,

Patient abandonment is an allegation that is often used when a nurse leaves a position or job on the spot. It is used by employers as a basis for termination and in some states is also an allegation that can form the basis of a professional disciplinary action against the nurse by the state board of nursing. Whether such actions by an employer or a board would be successful would depend on the specific facts of a case.

Usually, the allegation of abandonment is raised when the nurse simply leaves the place of work with no notification to the person the nurse reports to. Doing so is understandably problematic for the patient(s) and for the facility. As a result, notification that one is unable to carry on with his or her responsibilities and is leaving the workplace is an important step for the nurse who is desiring to leave the workplace. Although this action may not totally shield the nurse, the notification, including a discussion about the reasons for the decision to leave, may mitigate any allegations of abandonment.

Your question spoke to resigning on the spot. This implies the communication about resigning would be to another individual, and hopefully to someone to whom the director of nursing reports. If so, an allegation of abandonment may not be able to be successfully raised.

However, if one is able to leave a job after serious, earlier discussions about the reasons why this decision has been made, and providing some reasonable time for one’s leaving to occur, it is often the best professional road to take when terminating employment.



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About the Author:

Barry Bottino
Barry Bottino is a freelance writer and editor who has more than 25 years of experience at various newspapers and magazines.


  1. Avatar
    liz June 6, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    How does an agency inform DAD’s that a Director of Nursing is no longer employed by the agency? Is it done in writing and what information is required?

  2. Avatar
    Tracie Parks October 29, 2016 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    If your a home health nurse and you have not spoke to a patient to set up a appointment to visit a patient and can not access there phone number or address can you be charged with abandonment.

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