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