A nursing home can get in trouble if a patient wanders off, which is also called elopement. However, this is only true if the elopement of the resident causes them to suffer injury.
Just Wandering Off Is Not Enough for a Claim
Nursing home staff and administrators are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of their patients. Wandering off nursing home property alone does not qualify as negligence. The resident must have sustained an injury that would not have happened if they had been supervised.
An elderly patient leaving nursing home property can be extremely dangerous, especially if they have any form of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 60% of people with dementia will wander at some point. If a patient elopes and is injured as a result, the nursing facility may be liable for those injuries.
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that abuse or neglect can increase the chance of death by 300% when compared to elders who received proper care. It is crucial that you report any suspicions you may have to the Agency for Healthcare Administration.
Nursing Homes Have a Duty of Care
Family members often place their loved ones in nursing homes because they cannot live independently. To give the best quality of care, nursing homes must know a patient’s background and medical history to make reasonable accommodations. There are several disorders that put a patient at risk for wandering that the nursing home must monitor to ensure their safety.
Some examples of these disorders include:
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Autism spectrum disorder.
- Down syndrome.
- Brain damage from a stroke or previous injury.
Sometimes, especially if a patient is not familiar with the nursing home, they may wander off to try to “go home”. Environmental, emotional, and physical factors can trigger these reactions.
If the resident never showed any signs that they were inclined to wander off nursing home property, a court or jury may view the wandering episode as unforeseeable. In this case, the nursing home may be able to successfully defend itself against accusations of negligence.
Negligence of Nursing Homes
Nursing homes must provide round-the-clock care for their patients, so a nursing home can get in trouble if a patient wanders off. Any time a patient leaves the premises without the supervision of a responsible caretaker, they are at risk of harm. Some examples of these risks include:
- Aggravation of their current health condition.
- Physical injury.
- Severe emotional distress.
- An accident caused by factors outside the nursing home (such as a pedestrian accident).
Negligent nursing homes can cause residents to wander in a variety of ways. Nursing home administrators may be liable for negligence if they fail to effectively train their staff to prevent elopement. If a resident with a known propensity to wander is left unsupervised for unreasonably long periods of time, the nursing facility may have committed negligence. Nursing homes may also be culpable if they fail to put adequate measures in place to ensure the safety of residents, such as alarms and properly fastened exits or windows.
How Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Be There for Your Family
It can be terrifying when a loved one goes unaccounted for when left in the care of a nursing home, and even more devastating if they suffer injury or pass away as a result.
The attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience holding nursing home facilities accountable for injuries to their residents. A nursing home can get in trouble if a patient wanders off. We know what it takes to investigate your claim and hold those responsible accountable. When pursuing your claim, we can collect all necessary evidence to prove that the nursing home breached its duty of care and contributed to your loved one’s injury. Our attorneys will handle your claim from start to finish to relieve you of the legal burden.
We will not let the nursing home or assisted living facility get off scot-free. Its negligence led to your loved one’s harm and it should pay accordingly. Our team can help.
Regarding our nursing home injury clients, there are no upfront fees or costs to you until we recover compensation. There is a limit on your time to file a lawsuit. The time limit differs from state to state. Do not jeopardize your right to recover compensation. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336.