A nursing home has a duty to supervise a resident and provide security to avoid endangering a vulnerable adult. Many residents in nursing facilities suffer mental conditions that impair their cognitive functioning, causing them to be confused about where they are. This necessitates close monitoring and supervision to prevent them from wandering inside the facility or even leaving the facility altogether.
A nursing home that fails to put measures in place to prevent residents from wandering or eloping puts the residents at great risk for serious injury. If your loved one wandered off the premise and suffered an injury, you may be able to file claims of nursing home negligence and abuse against the facility and the caretakers.
A Kansas City wandering and elopement lawyer can help you investigate any claim of negligence involving your loved one and work to pursue the compensation available under law on behalf of you and your loved one. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 today for a free case evaluation.
Why Nursing Home Residents Wander
According to the Mayo Clinic, wandering is common among those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are a number of reasons why this behavior may develop among this group of people. The person may be searching for a bathroom or attempting to follow former life routines. They may become lost due to visual distortions, or they simply may want to remove themselves from an anxiety-producing environment.
Wandering can present an especially dangerous situation in nursing homes, particularly when residents stray into unsafe territory. An even more severe form of wandering is elopement, wherein residents leave the facility unsupervised.
Nursing home staff should be aware of the higher risk of wandering among such residents. They should also have a plan prepared to prevent harm to residents who may be likely to wander.
Potential Consequences of Wandering
Residents who have dementia often deal with difficult emotions, such as anxiety and frustration. These emotional disorders may compound the risk of wandering and eloping, leaving them susceptible to a host of dangers such as excessive heat and cold or being struck by vehicles on roadways. Wandering may increase the resident’s propensity to slipping and falling due to uneven or unfamiliar terrain.
Other consequences of wandering and elopement can be:
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Exposure to animal attacks
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Becoming a victim of crime
- Missing important medication
Nursing Homes and Liability for Wandering and Elopement
According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, nursing homes have a duty to provide a safe environment for all residents. Some of the precautions that nursing homes can put in place to prevent wandering and elopement may include:
Upon admission of residents, facilities must evaluate every resident’s propensity to wander or elope. Residents suffering from cognitive impairment issues require a higher level of supervision and monitoring as they are more inclined to roam within the facility and even beyond its confines. The better a staff member knows a resident’s condition, the more likely they will be able to respond to the resident’s possibility of eloping.
All exits should be secured so that residents don’t gain access to any areas that could potentially pose a danger. Failure to provide adequate security to stop wandering or elopement may be a form of negligence.
Adequate Staff Members
A nursing home should have sufficient staff to take care of and monitor the whereabouts of residents.
Keeping Residents Active
Nursing homes should ensure that residents are active and stimulated. One effective way of keeping the nursing home residents active is by offering them exercises to remedy any wandering cue such as boredom.
Essentially, the goal of a nursing facility is not to restrict movement, but to provide a safe environment in which residents can wander. The environment should also address environmental cues that may trigger a resident’s desire to wander. Some ways to address the environmental triggers include:
- Camouflaging building exits
- Maintaining well-lit and uncluttered walking paths in the facility
The nursing home is responsible for managing residents’ wandering behaviors to protect them from injuries. If your loved one was injured as a result of wandering or elopement caused by the facility’s negligence, you might be able to file a compensation claim against the nursing home.
We Can Fight for the Rights of Your Loved One
To file a claim, you will need to demonstrate that the nursing home or staff member helped to cause your loved one’s injuries as a result of their negligence. In the difficult event that your loved one dies after suffering injuries while wandering, you may be able to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Our legal team may be able to help you:
- Promptly file a lawsuit on behalf of your loved one
- Collect evidence proving that the nursing home or a staff member was negligent
- Obtain testimony from eyewitnesses
- Acquire expert testimony
- Calculate your recoverable damages
- Represent you and your loved one in a settlement negotiation or trial
Ultimately, we may fight for you and your loved one to receive compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral costs in case of the wrongful death of your loved one
In the case of reckless conduct by the nursing home, you may be able to seek a recovery for many of your losses.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to Get Help
If you or your loved one suffered injuries during wandering or elopement, we might be able to help. Our Kansas City wandering and elopement lawyer will work hard to pursue the compensation that you and your loved one deserve. You will not have to provide any up-front fees, as we work on a contingency-fee-basis. This means that you will only pay us after your case is settled.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 842-6336 to schedule a free appointment.