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Nursing Home Elopement Lawyer

When you put a loved one in a nursing home, you expect them to be safe and supervised. Unfortunately, nursing homes are often understaffed, leading to a dangerous situation where a resident elopes from the facility.

Eloping from nursing homes is a serious issue that can put elderly residents in considerable danger. In many cases, the resident's cognitive abilities have been compromised due to dementia or other conditions, and they may be unaware of their surroundings or recall where they are supposed to be.

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are legal advocates for nursing home residents harmed because the staff failed to take necessary security measures to ensure their safety.

Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.

Patients Wandering from Nursing Homes

Elopement in Nursing Homes

Elopement describes disabled and older adults leaving the premises unsupervised. Wandering away from nursing facilities is a growing concern in the elderly care industry. Elopement occurs when an elderly person leaves their residence without permission or the facility’s knowledge.

In some cases, it can be due to forgetfulness or confusion and does not necessarily constitute abuse, however, if elopement is frequent and occurs against the will of a resident, it may be considered a form of elder abuse.

In cases where there is cause for concern, it is important to investigate why the resident is eloping and put measures in place to ensure their safety while they remain at the caregiving home.

Is Wandering Away a Form of Nursing Home Abuse?

Reports of abuse related to elopement from nursing centers are becoming increasingly common. Nursing home staff and administrators are responsible for keeping residents safe, and any form of abuse in these settings can put vulnerable seniors at serious risk.

Resident abuse related to elopement puts residents at risk of serious injuries, including physical or psychological strain or harm that results from a patient leaving the caregiving home unsupervised.

Any signs of potential abuse related to an elopement in nursing homes must be taken seriously and addressed swiftly to ensure elderly residents receive the protection they deserve.

What Are Elopement Risks in Nursing Homes?

Wandering away (elopement) in nursing homes usually occurs when a person with a mental impairment moves about a nursing home or leaves the long-term care center without permission or supervision.

Elopement puts disabled and elderly adults at risk for disastrous consequences, leading to serious injury or death.

Sometimes, nursing home patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or other cognitive impairments may leave the facility without proper staffing.

A nursing home resident's propensity to wander should be identified in an initial care plan, and the facility should implement preventive measures to prevent elopement incidents.

Contact us if your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect. Our team has experience prosecuting nursing home elopement cases.

Prevalence of Cognitively Disable Nursing Home Residents Wandering from Facilities

There are an estimated 5.3 million people in the US with Alzheimer's disease, only one of the diseases that can cause cognitive dysfunction and lead to wandering. In nursing homes, it is estimated that two-thirds of all patients have some dementia or cognitive impairment.

Although it often goes unreported, at least 34,000 Alzheimer patients each year wander outside unsupervised. Many nursing home residents are ill-equipped to care for themselves once outside and often cannot find their way back.

Nursing home elopement can lead to serious injuries, including death.

Preventing Elopement in Nursing Homes

To minimize elopement cases, nursing home facilities should take special precautionary measures when caring for an elderly person, these include:

  • Train nursing home staff to identify wandering residents.
  • Have sufficient nursing home staff members to recognize when wandering patients are missing.
  • Use bed, wheelchair, or door alarms to alert staff when a patient is leaving the home.
  • Re-direct patients with dementia-related issues who are wandering.
  • Use redirect procedures to prevent residents with dementia-related issues from wandering away unsupervised.
  • Recognize that nearly any unwelcome change in an assisted living facility resident's life can create a greater risk of unexpected behavioral changes, including wandering away from the facility.
  • Regularly check the nursing home resident's Care Plan that documents any prior elopements to ensure that wandering precautions are followed.
  • Identify nursing home residents with cognitive impairments, sleep disorders, and under psychiatric care.
  • Be vigilant with elderly residents within the nursing home facility with dementia. Approximately 40% of elopements away from nursing homes happened within 14 days of being admitted.
  • Secure doorways and develop proper exit procedure policies at the nursing home to prevent elopement. Half of the patients in one study of elopements from nursing homes occurred when the resident wandered behind others going through exit doors.
  • Use technology to alert nursing home staff if a patient leaves the designated area, including an alarm system, wander guard or security personnel staff that remain vigilant to protect residents. Additionally, door alarms, GPS patient tags, and video surveillance at long-term care facilities can stop a patient from leaving unsupervised.
  • Nursing home residents wander when left unsupervised or in a safe environment without alarm systems.

Developing a well-crafted Care Plan can minimize the potential risk of nursing home elopement while maximizing security measures to prevent future incidents.

Creating exercise programs, having meaningful activities, and allowing for wandering in a designated, properly staffed area can all be preventive measures to reduce incidents.

Tracking residents' elopement histories, wandering behaviors, and aggressive tendencies, including triggers and patterns, can help caregivers see the signs before a resident tries to leave the caregiving home.

Assisted Living Facility Staff Members Acting Negligently to Avoid Patients from Eloping

Assisted living staff members are responsible for taking proper precautions to ensure their residents do not elope. Negligence on the part of staff can contribute to cases of elopement, either by failing to recognize signs that a resident is attempting to leave or by not taking sufficient steps to prevent them from doing so.

A properly staffed environment providing adequate care can include ensuring door alarms are in working order and monitoring any resident at risk for elopement more closely.

Assisted living facilities must adhere strictly to their protocol and policies to avoid potential negligence resulting in a resident leaving the facility unsupervised. Staff and family members providing care to those with Alzheimer's disease, other cognitive impairments, or sleep disorders must take steps to minimize and ensure resident safety.

Nursing Home Neglect Liability for Wandering-Related Injuries and Death

Nursing home facilities must acknowledge the risks associated with patient wandering and elopement and take steps to keep incidents from occurring in the first place. Having a plan set in place helps keep residents safe and accounted for in nursing homes.

Most disabled patients who leave the safety of their nursing facility are not prepared to cope with the dangers of the everyday world and commonly sustain severe injury or even death.

Most deaths from wandering and elopement are from being struck by a motor vehicle, weather exposure, drowning, or sexual or physical abuse. Many residents eloping from long-term care facilities suffer severe injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain damage, and spinal cord injuries.

There are a few scenarios when a nursing home facility is most likely found negligent in an elopement case where a resident was injured.

  • The person had prior wandering incidents, yet no precautions were put in place to protect the resident.
  • The caregiving home had a policy or procedure to prevent wandering but did not follow it.
  • When the resident left the caregiving center, the nursing home staff members did not take proper action or delayed action, such as calling law enforcement or implementing a search.
  • At the time of elopement, the facility lacked staffing or inadequate means to protect patients with mental impairment from wandering.

Elopement occurs when the nursing home fails to use the many tools available to meet the resident's personal safety needs while at the facility.

Any family member subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect is at risk of changing their behavioral patterns and may create a desire to leave the facility unattended.

Nursing Home Wandering Injury and Death Lawyers

When facilities fail to implement preventive measures to keep patients safe, they may be legally responsible for the resulting elderly patient injuries. In Chicago, Illinois, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, represents family members from across the state and throughout the Midwest in nursing home negligence litigation.

We can help investigate and prosecute nursing home wandering cases and provide peace of mind regarding the wandering episode's circumstances.

Contact our nursing home resident abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss protecting your family member's legal rights.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our nursing home abuse legal team about your family member remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Our personal injury law firm accepts all nursing home elopement cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee arrangement. This agreement ensures our clients pay no upfront fees until we secure financial compensation.


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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa