CACI No. 509. Abandonment of Patient

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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509.Abandonment of Patient
[Name of plaintiff] claims [name of defendant] was negligent because [he/
she/nonbinary pronoun] did not give [name of patient] enough notice
before withdrawing from the case. To succeed, [name of plaintiff] must
prove both of the following:
1. That [name of defendant] withdrew from [name of patient]’s care
and treatment; and
2. That [name of defendant] did not provide sufficient notice for
[name of patient] to obtain another medical practitioner.
However, [name of defendant] was not negligent if [he/she/nonbinary
pronoun] proves that [name of patient] consented to the withdrawal or
declined further medical care.
New September 2003
Sources and Authority
“[A] physician who abandons a patient may do so ‘only . . . after due notice,
and an ample opportunity afforded to secure the presence of other medical
attendance.’ (Payton v. Weaver (1982) 131 Cal.App.3d 38, 45 [182 Cal.Rptr.
225], internal citations omitted.)
“A physician cannot just walk away from a patient after accepting the patient for
treatment. . . . In the absence of the patient’s consent, the physician must notify
the patient he is withdrawing and allow ample opportunity to secure the presence
of another physician.” (Hongsathavij v. Queen of Angels/Hollywood Presbyterian
Medical Center (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 1123, 1138 [73 Cal.Rptr.2d 695].)
“Abandonment as a theory warrants CACI No. 509 only where there is evidence
that the physician has accepted responsibility for the patient and then has
withdrawn without giving enough notice to ensure timely continuity of
treatment.” (Zannini v. Liker (2022) 74 Cal.App.5th 610, 627 [289 Cal.Rptr.3d
“When a competent, informed adult directs the withholding or withdrawal of
medical treatment, even at the risk of hastening or causing death, medical
professionals who respect that determination will not incur criminal or civil
liability: the patient’s decision discharges the physician’s duty.” (Thor v. Superior
Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 725, 743 [21 Cal.Rptr.2d 357, 855 P.2d 375].)
Secondary Sources
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 9.8
3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 31, Liability of Physicians and Other Medical
Practitioners, § 31.42 (Matthew Bender)

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