When nursing home patients wander outside of the facility without supervision, they inadvertently subject themselves to grave injuries or even death. If your loved one suffered harm while wandering, and their opportunity for elopement resulted from inadequate and neglectful supervision in a nursing facility, you may qualify for compensation for your financial and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering through a nursing home lawsuit. In addition, a lawsuit can correct the problems that led to the elopement incident and prevent similar occurrences in the future.
A Berwyn wandering and elopement lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm offers responsive legal care and may help by investigating the nursing home conditions, finding out who bears fault for the incident, and pursuing the settlement you deserve. Call us for a free case evaluation.
Wandering and Elopement Risks in Nursing Homes
Patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other cognitive impairments live at a higher risk for wandering away from a nursing home facility. Elopement, which refers to wandering away from the premises, can also occur to patients with issues such as sleep disorders or with issues involving medication or increased stress.
When caregivers fail to properly monitor patients, and those patients leave the facility, they are vulnerable to serious injuries that can include falls, broken bones, head injuries, lacerations and bruises, and even death. Nursing home staff have to be vigilant at all times, especially when dealing with patients who have a previous history of wandering, who move about excessively, or have mental or emotional conditions that may make them prone to do so.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes are short of the staff necessary to provide proper supervision. In addition, facilities may be risk-prone for the following reasons:
- Staff lacks proper training in what to look for and how to prevent elopement.
- Lack of proper security measures such as locked doors and alarms that go off when someone tries to open them.
- Facilities underestimate the risk of elopement in their population.
When a nursing home acts negligently and fails to take steps to prevent their residents from wandering and someone experiences harm as a result, the facility and its staff may shoulder responsibility for compensating the resident for the losses they endured. Contact a Berwyn wandering and elopement lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to evaluate the situation and determine the best approach to take.
Why Eloping and Wandering in Nursing Homes Occurs
Patients who wander outside a nursing facility do not usually have the intention of escaping. Those who have dementia or who are cognitively impaired often do not realize what behavior may harm them, so they remain unaware of the dangers that exist outside the facility.
Reasons that nursing home elopement may occur include:
- Patients wind up opening a door to the outside when they intended to go to the bathroom.
- Patients wander in their sleep or under the influence of some medication.
- Agitated patients attempt to escape a situation that makes them uncomfortable or upset.
- Mentally impaired patients have illusions that make them believe they must go somewhere else, like taking care of a problem at home.
For a free legal consultation with a Wandering and Elopement Lawyer serving Berwyn, call (800) 794-0444
Measures to Help Prevent Elopement and Wandering in Elderly
Responsible nursing homes should understand the signs that elopement may occur in their population and take measures to prevent wandering before an injury occurs.
Proactive measures may include:
- Interviewing family members or caregivers at the patient’s initial arrival to see if a previous history of elopement and a patient’s propensity to wander exists.
- Using psychiatric tools to evaluated patients.
- Installing, enforcing, and training staff to use security measures to keep patients from wandering.
- Provide adequate staff to supervise patients and respond to their physical needs so that patients do not try to go off and find a bathroom or get a drink of water or something to eat on their own. They also need to train staff to deal with emotional needs, such as residents who show signs of anxiety and speak of leaving for reasons such as the need to go home or visit their children.
- Regularly check residents’ elopement histories and assess the possibility they may do it again.
- Remain alert for potential problems in situations such as changing rooms, medication, mealtime, caregivers, or scheduled activities.
- Post signs and inform visitors about anti-elopement and safety procedures so they do not accidentally allow patients to pass through locked doors.
- Develop a plan with a formal search procedure should elopement occur that states staff procedures and provides identifying information about and photographs of residents to help authorities find them.
Nursing home administrators may practice these precautions by conducting periodic drills to simulate an event of a resident wandering off.
Berwyn Wandering and Elopement Lawyer Near Me (800) 794-0444
Federal Laws Regarding Elopement
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have regulations that require nursing homes with patients on Medicare or Medicaid to assess each resident’s needs within 14 days of admission and to make periodic assessments thereafter.
If nursing homes do not abide by federal regulations or fail to abide by the legally required duty of care and protect residents from elopement and wandering, and the resident suffers harm as a result, the facility can be liable for negligence.
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Contact a Nursing Home Attorney Serving Berwyn for Legal Help
Wandering and elopement classify as nursing home issues that may result in severe injuries and deaths. If your family member experienced harm in an elopement incident, contact a nursing home lawyer serving Berwyn at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. We may help by gathering evidence and investigating safety procedures to hold the facility responsible for damages.
We work on a contingency basis, meaning we only take fees from a settlement we may secure on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.