Nursing Home Elopements Are Preventable

Representing Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Nearby Areas of Florida

Police are this moment searching for a man in West Virginia who is missing from a nursing home. He walked off the grounds at approximately 11 p.m. on Sunday. Often, nursing home residents, like this 80 year old gentleman, suffer from dementia, poor judgment, poor safety awareness, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. As a result, and many times as a result of a lack of social stimulation or psychological evaluation in conjunction with these other reasons, residents will attempt to elope from their nursing homes and, in the process, get injured in falls, motor vehiclepedestrian accidents, exposure to the elements, and other accidents off premises.
The attorneys at CGWC have extensive experience in litigating nursing home elopement cases. Elopements are not only preventable. They simply shouldn’t happen if the nursing home is protecting the facility and its patients as if the facility were a home. There are extremely cost-effective ways of preventing emotionally, mentally, and physically vulnerable nursing home patients from eloping off premises where they are at risk of serious injury or death. For example, door alarms, security alarm bracelets, locator bracelets, bed alarms, and chair alarms are cheap ways to protect these vulnerable senior citizens. Nursing homes all over the country use door alarms to assure that residents don’t leave the grounds without a staff member being made aware. Particular patients at risk of elopement based upon psychological profile or past history of such behavior can be cheaply protected with an ankle or arm bracelet that sounds an alarm when they leave the premises. Bed and chair alarms can cost-effectively notify staff members when a patient has attempted to leave his or her room and place themselve at risk of falling or injuring themselves in or out of the facility.

Of course, this technology alone is not enough. The staff must respond to the alarms, consistently supervise and monitor patients, assure the patients receive adequate social and mental stimulation and physical activity, and obtain psychological evaluations when needed to obtain additional doctors’ orders or advice to minimize the risk of elopement and injury or death. For information and access to consumer assistance with nursing home care and protecting elderly parents entering nursing homes, consult with the Coalition to Protect America’s Elders, Consumer Health Choices, Advancing Excellence In America’s Nursing Homes, and other consumer organizations for senior citizens and nursing home residents.