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Wandering and Elopement: Nursing Home Neglect Cases

When we think of nursing homes, we imagine a safe and secure place for our loved ones. We leave their lives in the capable hands of nurses and staff, trusting that they will take care of them. However, sometimes nursing homes can be a hotbed for neglect and abuse. One particularly egregious form of neglect in nursing homes is wandering and elopement.

Wandering and Elopement Defined

Wandering and elopement are terms used to describe the act of a patient leaving a nursing home without permission. This can be dangerous for the patient, as they are often not in a state of mind to make safe choices or seek assistance. They may become lost and disoriented or even engage in risky behaviors, like crossing busy streets.

Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s often suffer from wandering impulses. These conditions can cause severe confusion, agitation, memory loss, delusions, hallucinations, and mood swings that interfere with the patient’s ability to make safe decisions.

Because of this, wandering and elopement are common in nursing homes with Alzheimer’s patients. However, all types of patients may be at risk of wandering and elopement if their hospital doesn’t take the necessary precautions to ensure they don’t leave without permission.

Nursing Home Negligence

It’s the facility’s responsibility to prevent patients from wandering and eloping. This includes implementing policies and procedures to ensure that they monitor patients, provide staff with updated information on each patient’s condition, and have a system to track patients who leave the premises.

If a nursing home fails to take these precautions and a patient wanders, this is negligence. To prove that a hospital is liable for the patient’s injuries, you must establish that:

  • The hospital had a duty of care toward your loved one
  • The hospital breached its duty of care by failing to take reasonable steps to prevent wandering and elopement
  • This breach resulted in your loved one’s injuries or death

Common Causes of Wandering and Elopement

You can often trace wandering and elopement in nursing home neglect cases  back to a facility’s failure to supervise patients adequately. There are several common causes of wandering and elopement, including:

  • Lack of staff or poorly trained staff
  • Inadequate safety measures in place
  • Poor hospital design (including lack of safety features or poor lighting)
  • Inadequate security measures, such as unlocked doors or windows, inpatient rooms, and hospital area
  • Lack of supervision when transporting patients to other hospital units or locations outside the hospital

What Should You Do if Your Loved One Is Injured?

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than hearing that something happened to a family member or friend while under hospital care. If your loved one has suffered injuries after wandering or eloping from a hospital, the experienced hospital negligence attorneys from Rossman Law Group can help.

Nursing homes are supposed to be a haven for their patients. When the hospital doesn’t live up to its duty of care, it can be devastating for both you and your loved one. No one should have to experience this type of neglect. If you have any questions about a potential nursing home negligence case, don’t hesitate to contact Rossman Law Group for a free case evaluation.