As a nurse, you take your job seriously and exercise the utmost professionalism and compassion when treating your patients. No matter where you live, the nurse licensing board in your state can take disciplinary action against you if you abandon your patients.
If you are a nurse accused of abandoning your patients, you need to understand what constitutes nurse abandonment and what doesn't. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, reach out to an experienced nursing license defense attorney immediately.
What is Nurse Abandonment?
Although the specific terms may vary from state to state, nurse abandonment is usually classified as requiring the following elements:
- You, as a nurse, must have accepted the assignment.
- You severed the patient relationship without providing notice to your supervisor or other authorized officer so they could find a replacement for you.
To further define nurse abandonment, a nurse may receive sanctions from their respective licensing board for any of the following:
- Leaving an assignment you accepted without notice
- Leaving without reporting it
- Leaving patients without licensed supervision
- Delegating your tasks to an unqualified person
Nurses can face administrative (and sometimes legal) consequences for doing things like sleeping on the job, providing incompetent care, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What Does Not Constitute Nurse Abandonment?
Although many activities can get you in trouble for nurse abandonment, other actions do not constitute nurse abandonment, such as:
- Refusing to work with abusive patients or in unsafe conditions
- Not working mandatory overtime
- Not calling in, not showing up to work, or arriving late
- Refusing to do something you feel would jeopardize the safety and well-being of the patient
One key element of nurse abandonment is first accepting an assignment and not following through with it or doing things that would place your patient's health at further risk. Other actions, though, may constitute employment abandonment. If you simply don't show up for work, for instance, the hospital may impose employment-related consequences on you, but they should not pursue nurse abandonment charges against you.
In truth, the line between the two can get blurry, and employers and nurses may not see eye to eye in some situations. This could leave the nurse exposed to possible administrative sanctions, including license suspension or revocation. You need to reach out for help if your employer is trying to charge you with nurse abandonment—particularly if it resulted from something beyond your control or because you felt it was the right thing to do.
Get Help from a Trusted Legal Ally
Contact the experienced Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm for a full review of your case and advice regarding your rights and options. Our attorneys have helped many nurses across the country with their serious administrative actions and licensing issues, including nurses who have had their licenses revoked or suspended for nurse abandonment.