Columbus Elopement and Wandering Lawyers
In the nursing home setting, elopement is considered a type of unsupervised wandering; specifically, wandering in which a patient with cognitive impairments leaves the nursing home or long-term care facility. A nursing home resident’s likeliness to wander or elope should be identified in a care plan when the resident first enters the facility, and preventive measures should be taken and implemented by the home. If your loved one has been neglected by a long-term care facility, and as a result was seriously injured, contact the attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm now.
Supervision is a critical component to a safe long-term care facility/nursing home. Elopement is an example of nursing home staff failing to meet expectations of care, namely, supervision and security. This negligence to meet expectations results in the endangerment of residents. Unfortunately, any member of a nursing home population may elope at any point in time. There is no single defining characteristic that accompanies elopement among residents, however, a resident’s mental and physical attributes may have telling factors.
Nursing Home Residents at Risk of Wandering
Many times, patients who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of mental impairment may be more likely to elope in a frantic feeling that they need to get home or to work. Individuals with mental impairments or existing psychiatric diseases should be placed on an increased watch for elopement by the facility’s staff. From a physical standpoint, residents with limited mobility are less likely to elope than residents that have full mobility.
When wandering around becomes wandering away, residents with dementia and other impairments are at a high risk of injury. A study done by the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias showed that elopements tend to follow patterns that include a “lack of effective precautions to prevent elopement when residents had indicated an intent to elope, had repeatedly attempted to elope, or had a history of elopement”, a lack of awareness by the facility’s staff of the resident’s whereabouts, and an ineffective alarm device that should alert staff to elopement attempts. With an estimated 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, 2/3 of nursing home patients are subject to some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia. This makes the likelihood of elopement much higher, given the under-staffing problem that many Ohio nursing homes are facing today. It is also estimated that at least 34,000 nursing home residents wander outside unsupervised.
Why is Nursing Home Elopement Dangerous?
The risk of elopement is also on the rise. Between 2006 and 2009, the number of reported elopement cases increased by 38 percent, and that number has only continued to rise in the last 10 years. Residents who elope are at a great risk of injury, often exposing themselves to extreme heat or extreme cold, or suffering a fall when walking over unfamiliar territory. In some cases, residents who elope may suffer serious injuries or death as a result of walking into traffic or large bodies of water.
Elopement/wandering is completely preventable if nursing homes and care facilities simply took the time to train staff in identifying patients who are at a greater risk for wandering, as well as having a sufficient number of staff members to recognize when a patient is missing. A nursing home can be found negligent in cases in which a resident is injured. If the resident had a history of wandering, yet no precautions were put in place to protect the resident; if the facility had a procedure to prevent wandering, but did not follow it; when the resident left the facility, the staff did not take proper actions; or at the time of elopement, if the facility had a lack of staffing to prevent residents from wandering—the facility can and will be held responsible for residents’ injuries.
Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
When facilities fail to implement measures to keep patients safe, they may be responsible for the resulting injuries. Under federal law, nursing homes and care facilities are obligated to provide substantial care for residents. If your loved one was injured due to a care facility’s negligence, call the attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm today by calling (419) 529-2020 or online for a consultation.
Rinehardt Law Firm is the answer to your personal injury. Our team of attorneys and case managers have represented clients in in Columbus and throughout central and north central Ohio for years. We treat every new client as if they were part of our family by providing clear communication, building a strong relationship, and using our experience to provide legal guidance that’s in their best interests. We offer free consultations with no obligation, so don’t hesitate to contact our team about your legal matter.