What is a Nursing Home Elopement?
Many people say “my mom escaped from the nursing home” when talking about resident elopement. This may be a harsh characterization of what an elopement is, but in lay terms, it is factually correct. Escaping from the nursing home, unauthorized wandering out of the assisted living facility, exiting without permission; they all mean the same thing.
Elopement is the term used in the long term care industry, and whatever you call it, patient wandering outside without assistance is never supposed to happen.
Elopement from the Nursing Home: Everything You Need to Know
“How did she get out of a locked facility?!” That is the question our clients general ask us. The simple answer is negligence. If a resident is exit seeking, confused, unsteady on their feet or requiring assistance with walking, they should not be allowed to ‘escape from the nursing home.’
Screening for Elopement Risk in Long Term Care Facilities
Each facility is legally required to perform an elopement screening for every resident upon admission. This resident elopement evaluation must be updated as the resident’s condition deteriorates.
Preventing Resident Elopement, Wandering and Escapes
Nursing homes are not prisons and resident elopement is not considered an ‘escape.’ However, all 50 states have legal requirements on facilities to implement reasonable preventative measures to keep confused and demented patients inside the facility.
Stopping confused residents from exiting the nursing home is easy. Below are some simple preventative measures that should be in place at every facility:
- Adequate staff numbers that provide for ample resident supervision.
- A manned front desk to monitor the entrance/exit of the building.
- Working locks on windows and doors.
- Alarms that sound if a door is opened in the memory care unit or dementia wing of the facility.
- Actively monitored cameras to track resident movement throughout the facility and near exits.
- Frequent bed checks and roll-calls for at-risk, exit-seeking residents.
- Using a wander guard in high risk residents.
- Having a high quality fence with locking gate surrounding the facility premises, just in case the patient wanders out of the building.
- A facility wide policy on resident elopement to ensure quick apprehension if a resident goes missing.
Why is Elopement Such a Big Deal?
When confused residents wander out of facilities, the results can be disastrous. See below for some of the nursing home elopement lawsuits we’ve handled to learn more about the terrible consequences that can arise out of an unauthorized wandering off a nursing home campus.
What about Elopement from an Assisted Living Facility?
While the care levels differ from a skilled nursing home and an assisted living facility, the legal requirement to prevent elopement remains the same. No assisted living facility should allow an at-risk resident to elope or escape from the assisted living facility. The logic is consistent with the above discussion about nursing home elopements. The resident poses a serious risk of harming themselves.
Lawsuits We’ve Handled on Behalf of Families Who Lost a Loved One Due to Nursing Home Elopement and Wandering
Disclaimer: we have represented families on some awful cases. However, resident elopements are some of the worst cases to handle, since they involve such a preventable injury. Our nursing home abuse lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in nursing home elopement cases involving serious injury and wrongful death. Unfortunately, most of our resident wandering cases ended with the resident dying outside the facility. We have pursued elopement lawsuits when the resident escapes the facility and suffers from the following horrific fatalities:
- A resident wandered out of a memory care unit of the assisted living facility and drowned in a nearby canal.
- A resident escaped from a ‘locked’ nursing home and was hit by a car.
- A nursing home patient wandered out of the facility’s front doors, without detection and died of heatstroke.
Contact our Nursing Home Elopement Attorneys Today
There is never an excuse for a nursing home or assisted living resident wandering out of the facility. If your family member eloped from their nursing home, contact our nursing home elopement attorneys now to learn more about your rights. We have decades of experience handling these kinds of cases and we approach each matter compassionately. The consultation is free and we only get paid if you make a recovery. Let our experience help you on your journey to justice.
Call us now at 1-844-253-8919 to start the conversation.