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Why Is Elopement a Dangerous Issue in Nursing Homes?

 Posted on January 19,2024 in Nursing Home Negligence

Blog ImageMany families entrust nursing homes with the care of their elderly loved ones. However, there are some cases where a nursing home may seem to be clean and organized, and a facility may seem to be run well, but there are still issues that may affect residents’ safety. One growing concern is elopement, which occurs when nursing home residents wander away from a facility and encounter safety risks while in public. Numerous incidents have been documented across the United States in which nursing home patients have left facilities without supervision and been seriously injured or killed.

When a nursing home fails to take the proper steps to protect a person’s safety, a family will often be left wondering how this could have happened. In these situations, an attorney with experience in cases involving nursing home injuries can help determine whether the negligence of a facility or its staff members caused a patient to suffer personal injuries or wrongful death. A family may be able to recover compensation for their losses and ensure that a nursing home will be held responsible for its negligence.

The Dangers of Elopement

While nursing homes and assisted living facilities are supposed to provide the proper supervision, they may fail to monitor patients correctly. Residents may leave a facility and wander into the surrounding community. This can be a concern for nursing home patients with conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, since they may experience confusion and may be unable to find their way back to the facility 

Elderly nursing home residents who leave a facility may encounter a variety of harmful situations, and they may experience harm due to issues such as:

  • Falls resulting in bone fractures or head injuries.

  • Exposure to harsh weather conditions, leading to serious medical conditions or deaths due to exposure.

  • Drowning in ponds, rivers, or other bodies of water near a facility.

  • The risks of pedestrian accidents if a resident wanders onto busy roads.

  • Vulnerability to crimes such as theft and assault due to their defenseless state.

In a recent investigation, The Washington Post identified thousands of nursing home elopement incidents across the United States that led to nearly 100 deaths. A few examples of these incidents included the death of an elderly woman who was left unsupervised in a Colorado facility’s courtyard for several hours during sweltering heat and the deaths of nursing home residents in Iowa and Michigan who left facilities during snowstorms or extremely cold weather.

The investigation uncovered a shocking trend in which many facilities have failed to provide the proper supervision for patients. Many nursing homes are understaffed, making it difficult for staff members to properly monitor all residents. Facilities may also fail to follow the proper security measures or respond to alerts that indicate that patients may have exited buildings or wandered into unsafe areas. Unfortunately, many facilities conceal these issues from the families of residents or fail to report incidents in which patients suffer injuries due to a lack of proper supervision.

Addressing Elopement in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes should have comprehensive elopement prevention strategies in place, including:

  • Routine resident assessments to identify those at risk.

  • Staff training on recognizing signs of potential elopement behavior.

  • Adequate security measures such as door alarms and secure outdoor areas.

  • Regularly updating care plans based on changes in residents' conditions.

Family members of residents who have suffered injuries due to elopement from nursing home facilities can work with an attorney to hold a nursing home responsible for the failure to provide the proper care and supervision. Nursing homes are required to maintain adequate security measures and staffing levels necessary for preventing elopements or other situations that may put residents at risk of harm. By identifying the forms of negligence that led to elopement and taking legal action to recover compensation, a family can not only address the harm done to their loved one, but they can help prevent incidents like this from happening in the future.

Contacting Our Plainfield Nursing Home Elopement Attorney

If you suspect that a nursing home's negligence has led to your loved one's injury or wrongful death, it is crucial to act quickly to address this issue. At Flaherty Law, LLC, our Will County nursing home injury lawyer can investigate your case and identify the forms of negligence that put your loved on at risk of harm. We will work with you to pursue justice and hold a nursing home responsible for failing to provide the proper care. Contact us today at 815-577-7500 to arrange a free consultation.

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