Purpose

The Board of Registration in Nursing adopts this policy to establish criteria for the evaluation of compliance with its regulation at 244 CMR 9.03(15) prohibiting patient abandonment by a licensed nurse.

Dates Adopted/ Revised

July 12, 2000; September 13, 2000 (revised)

Policy

When the Board evaluates a complaint of patient abandonment, it will determine whether patient abandonment has occurred based on information demonstrating that the licensed nurse:

  1. accepted responsibility for the nursing care of a patient or group of patients;
  2. voluntarily withdrew from caring for the patient or patients with any ongoing nursing care need;
  3. failed to give reasonable notice to an appropriate person that she or he was withdrawing from caring for the patient or patients so that arrangements could be made for continuation of safe care; and
  4. failed to report essential information to an appropriate person.

The Board evaluates each allegation of patient abandonment on a case by case basis. In general, the Board would not consider that patient abandonment has occurred when a nurse is asked to work beyond the nurse's established work schedule and informs the employer that she or he is unable to do so.

The following situation is an example of patient abandonment:

  • A nurse accepts an assignment of patient care and then leaves the facility. The appropriate licensed nursing staff does not know that the nurse is not in the facility, nor has the nurse given a status report on her patient or patients to another nurse who assumes responsibility for patient care.

The following situation is not an example of patient abandonment:

  • A nurse ends her or his employment relationship without advanced notice, provided that the nurse has not accepted responsibility for the nursing care of a patient or group of patients.

This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.