"Patient Abandonment" stories

Nurses General Nursing


  • by Jenny P
    Specializes in CV-ICU.

I will be on a panel for a CEU class the beginning of February and we will be discussing patient abandonment. We will be discussing what it is; why you can be charged with it; how you can be charged with it; and what happens if you are charged with it. We will also be looking at your legal rights regarding it, and how the BON here in Mn responds to the charge.

Members of the panel include a member of the Mn. State Board of Nursing (an RN,JD), the MNA Practice Specialist, and another floor nurse (on the BOD of 3rd District Nurses) and myself (I was chair of the Practice Commission when the "Supervision and Delegation" paper came out here in MN).

I am interested if anyone has been threatened with patient abandonment by supervisors or others in regards to mandatory overtime or any other reason. I'd like to have a few examples of reasons nurses were either threatened or charged with it, what happened, and then try to relate some of these charges to Mn law and our BON response here. You can either email me or respond here.

Thanks for your help.



951 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

Ack, I wish I had saved it. My latest newsletter from the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing stated that refusing mandatory overtime (barring an emergency situation--not a staffing issue) is NOT patient abandonment. I'll see if I can find the actual verbage.

Specializes in psych/mental health.

Hi Jenny: Here's the link Zee referred to from the PA BON.

http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bpoa/nurbd/newsletter.pdf (Hoping this comes up correctly; it is the first time I've tried to post a link!)

PSNA has a position paper on the use of mandatory OT which includes a reference to abandonment.


Hope those help, good luck with the presentation.



455 Posts

I have no experience with it, but here is a link to the BON of Colorado Policy on Patient Abandonment.


Best of luck with the panel.


Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

I was using the mandatory overtime issue as an example of a supervisor forcing a nurse to work by threatening to charge the nurse with patient abandonment if they refuse to work overtime. In Mn, the BON is the only one who can charge a nurse with patient abandonment, but I wonder how many staff nurses are aware of that?

I appreciate the info on the other states and will check it out, especially how it compares to our state laws and Nurse Practice Act.

But I am actually looking for any experiences any of you may have had (or have heard of) with this. Have any of you worked with a nurse who walked off the job in the middle of a shift for any reason (S.O. in a MVA or whatever) and left the patients without a nurse? Was patient abandonment considered- why or why not? Or maybe a pregnant nurse going into early labor and leaving-- what happens; how is this covered; etc. When do you hear of patient abandonment and how is it used?

Any help at all would be appreciated.




6,011 Posts



317 Posts

Good luck and have fun at your panel discussion!


51 Posts

I have been a nurse for two years. One year ago I was working graveyard for the medsurg floor.This is a small rural hospital with 25 beds capacity. I was a new nurse with one year experience and I had been working as a med surg staff nurse for this period of time for the same hospital. That night when I came for my shift there were 12 patients in the floor, the other nurse had called in sick and the aides had had an in service during the day so no one was available to work. I called the staff coordinator and told her that I needed help and that I was not going to accept the assignment if I wasn't given and aide or another nurse. I didn't take report nor the charge keys waiting to see if they could work something up, when all of the sudden the new DON comes to the floor, she takes me to a room and tells me "if you leave, I will fire you and I will make sure you lose your license". To make the story short, I got help and ended up staying, my question is; If I had left, would she had the right to fire me for abandonment although I didn't accept the asssignment?

Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

Bancho, if you did not accept the assignment, you could not be charged with patient abandonment according to the Nurse Practice Act in Mn. I don't know what would happen in your state, but from what I'd read earlier, it looks like both Pa and Co agree with Minnesota's laws, so maybe most of the State Boards of Nursing agree with this interpretation.

Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

Huganurse, both of your examples are good, especially if you read South Carolina's link.:eek: I'll discuss these with the panel before the CE.

Any other examples?

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