Some elderly patients who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive impairments are at risk of “wandering” away from a nursing home facility, also known as “elopement;” however, this can only occur (barring a deliberate attempt to escape) as a result of the nursing home’s negligence and/or inadequate supervision. If your loved one has wandered away from a nursing home facility due to negligence, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Some nursing home patients may be at risk of wandering or eloping, and this is something that should be identified in their initial care plans and protected against using appropriate preventive measures, the most common of which is adequate supervision on an intermittent or constant basis. It’s estimated that as many as two-thirds of elderly nursing home patients have a cognitive impairment of some form, and as many as 34,000 nursing home elopement cases per year involve Alzheimer’s patients alone.
Elopement and accidental wandering can result in serious injuries or even death. Here are some preventive measures that nursing homes are generally responsible for implementing:
- Train staff members to identify disoriented or wandering patients;
- Ensure that the facility is adequately staffed so that employees can recognize when a patient is wandering or leaving the facility;
- Proper alarms and video surveillance for employees to inform other employees that a patient is attempting to leave the facility;
- Have patience with newly-admitted residents who are at-risk of wandering; an estimated 40% of nursing home elopements occur within the patient’s first 14 days in the facility.
- Make sure that doorways are properly secured; many patients elope from nursing homes by following someone who has unknowingly opened an exterior door for them when leaving themselves.
It’s important for nursing homes to understand the many safety risks for patients who wander or elope from the facility; unfortunately, most elderly deaths associated with wandering/elopement result from being struck by a vehicle, heat or cold exposure, and drowning. These patients simply need the supervision and protection that a nursing home provides because they are not physically and/or psychologically capable of the same independence they once had, and there are certain situations in which the nursing home will likely be legally liable for the injuries and losses resulting from wandering/elopement:
- The patient had a history of wandering, but the facility took no applicable precautions for his/her protection;
- The facility was understaffed or lacked the proper means to prevent patients from wandering;
- One or more staff members did not follow the nursing home’s established policies/procedures to prevent patients from wandering;
- The staff delayed action or failed to take action after a patient had already wandered from the facility.
If your loved one has been injured after wandering within or away from a nursing home due to negligence, contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation. We are a personal injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Agruss Law Firm, LLC is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.