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When Nursing Home Patients Go Missing

The Elkhart Truth recently reported that a man went missing from a Wisconsin nursing home. The man simply walked away from the facility and has not been located. Unfortunately, situations such as this happen all too frequently, in nursing homes across the country. As children or relatives of the elderly, we trust that the care facility where our parent lives will be diligent in providing high quality care. Sometimes, proper elder care is not provided. If a patient is able to walk out of the door, the nursing home is responsible for the situation. Neglect is a form of abuse.

Nursing Home Problems

Nursing homes are often large facilities with many patients that require varying types of care. Nursing home patients may be in a range of states of failing health, both mental and physical. The facility must provide proper care for each patient, regardless of their situation. Some patients may be more prone to trying to leave than others. However, once a patient is able to “escape” from the home his or her fate may not be good. Minor problems are likely to happen at any type of hospital. However, if a patient goes missing from the location it is an extreme problem that requires immediate attention.

Wandering and Elopement

Wandering away from nursing homes is a common problem. As many as 31% of nursing home patients with diagnosed dementia have wandered or eloped, according to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). Elopement is a legal term that means wandering. It is the wandering away of a facility resident who is cognitive-challenged. Wandering is quite dangerous and can be prevented if the facility takes proper care and utilizes the appropriate methods.

Consequences of Leaving a Nursing Facility

If a patient goes missing from a nursing home it can have dire consequences. Many of the people who go missing are not mentally stable – they may have dementia or Alzheimer’s. This can make them much more vulnerable to harm. Immediately, they could be in peril of walking into traffic, getting lost, falling, or any other number of dangers. Exposure to the elements could be unsafe, particularly in extreme temperatures or in harsh weather. Additionally, the patient may rely on medication, which he or she will not be able to take. The person could also get into trouble when they try to leave the area. Indeed, wandering could be life threatening.

Lost and Missing Patients

A nursing home or other care facility is required to follow federal rules in regards to patient care. They must properly train employees regarding how to handle wandering situations, must hire staff members that are qualified to handle such problems, and are required to use security or alarm systems. When wandering does occur, the nursing home is very often liable. If wandering or elopement has happened or you suspect that it may have occurred, contact Levin & Perconti. We are a leading nursing home abuse law firm and are available to consult with you regarding your case. Contact Levin & Perconti today.

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