CNA "Patient Abandonment"

Students CNA/MA Nursing Q/A


I quit my CNA job in california with only a few days notice. When I quit, my now former boss started claiming this was patient abandonment because I was not giving enough notice.

I was under the impression that patient abandonment was when you leave mid shift because you felt like it with no regard for the patients. My former boss is responsible for staffing and she is not very good at it. I feel like she was using this patient abandonment thing as a scare tactic and it just doesn't feel right.

Does anyone else have experience with this "patient abandonment" thing as a CNA leaving a job?

10 Answers


Kenneth Oja, PhD, RN

1 Article; 23 Posts

Specializes in teaching, research, and evidence-based practice.

Giving advance notice and leaving your position as a CNA does not constitute patient abandonment. Also, most patient abandonment laws are geared toward licensed healthcare providers such as nurses and physicians.  

Even if you were, for example, a licensed nurse, the situation you've described would not be considered abandonment. 

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, abandonment is the "intentional leaving a patient for whom the nurse is responsible without providing for another nurse or appropriate caretaker to assume care upon the nurse's leaving.” You didn't do this. You quit the position and gave advanced notice. 

The California Board of Registered Nursing considers patient abandonment to have occurred when a nurse assumes care of a patient, or group of patients, and then stops providing care "without giving reasonable notice to the appropriate person (e.g., supervisor, patient) so that arrangements can be made for continuation of nursing care by others.” Again, this isn't what occurred in your situation. 

If there were no patients assigned to your care at the time you left the position, it cannot be considered patient abandonment. 


38,333 Posts

You have to accept a patient assignment in order to be able to abandon the patient. If you quit after your shift, or before your next shift starts and your report for duty and receive report, you have not abandoned any patient. When I was a CNA and talk wafted around about quitting and heading for the door, everyone reminded everyone else that they had better finish their shift and report off to the charge nurse before doing so. There was one instance, during a time of turmoil, that a group of CNAs walked into hell. They all walked off the job and went to the parking lot to go home, nurses ran after them, telling them they would be reported and lose their certificates, however, they were smart enough to know that they had accepted no assignments. Talk of this went all around town. Those CNAs found jobs in other facilities. Do not let this individual blackmail you with threats that they can not back up.

It's not abandonment, but it doesn't look good to future employers, either. It's almost always better to tough out the customary notice time instead of leaving suddenly. There are a few exceptions, though...

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

You're right--you have to accept an assignment and then leave without a proper handoff. Until you get to work you don't HAVE an assignment. As I type and as you read, the RN/LPN and CNA who are at work and assigned to the resident are responsible for the resident. You can't abandon the resident if you're not responsible for them and the time of departure.

ArrowRN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 1,146 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, PCU, Travel.

People quit all the time. like everyone else said. You have to start your shift and accept an assignment for it to be legally called "patient abandonment". However this may vary according to your State's nurse practice act. It is your duty to be aware of what nursing assistants are required to abide by. Google it. 

Which states "Resignation from employment without notification, assuming the previously agreed-upon assignment has been completed, is not patient abandonment but is an employment issue"

If you already got another job lined up, obviously to your new employer it does not matter. Just don't say negatives about why you quit and don't volunteer the information unless the new employer asks..generic responses are always best such as "location x, was not a good match for my career goals"

Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,217 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Not abandonment! Fear mongering!


38,333 Posts

NewYorkerGirl said:
How would a future employer even know this happened? Unless this is a small-town situation, no one will know. No employer has ever asked me if I left without giving enough notice.

Employers would find out when they check the employment history. Previous employer that wants to "get back" at a gone employee could offer the information.


38,333 Posts

cadavatar said:
If they did this then they are open to a lawsuit

The employer can say anything about the conduct of an ex-employee that is true. The employment attorney that informed me of this fact pointed out that if the employer says it, it is true. Now, if you find an attorney who wants your money either way, they might entertain an action that they doubt will be successful. That is between the litigant and their attorney.


6 Posts

Thanks for all the input guys. I realize it doesn't look good, but to add more to my story. I requested a two week vacation starting Feb 1st and I just found out today that it was denied. My former job doesn't know this though I did offer an explanation to my quitting, but I already have a new job lined up and I wanted to vacation for training time and the new job in the case that I got the job, which I did. I don't know if that makes it better, but that's my story.


5 Posts

caliotter3 said:
Employers would find out when they check the employment history. Previous employer that wants to "get back" at a gone employee could offer the information.

If they did this then they are open to a lawsuit

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