Wandering Into Danger by Boca Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Joe Osborne

By Osborne & Francis
July 18, 2024

If nursing home residents are allowed to wander where they shouldn’t be it can result in serious injury or death says Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.

Maybe you need a break from work or it’s just too nice to stay inside. You get up, go outside for some fresh air, maybe take a walk down the street and stretch a little. What may be common, ordinary and actually good for you may be deadly for a nursing home resident, especially one suffering from dementia. Wandering away from a nursing home, also known as elopement, is a sign a facility is not doing enough to keep residents safe Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.

Wandering for nursing home residents presents a challenge. The person shouldn’t be overly restricted but needs to be kept safe and prevented from getting him or herself in danger. Anyone with memory problems and able to walk may wander off site or to a place in a nursing home that’s dangerous. The person may not have intended to wander, just got lost trying to go from one place to another.

The Gazette reports that there’s an average of about 125,000 search-and-rescue missions involving volunteers each year for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Two of those instances are,

  • A woman wandered away from her Maryland assisted living facility in 2014 and was struck and killed by a car.
  • A resident of a Colorado assisted living facility died from complications of hypothermia after he wandered away in March 2015.

There are many steps a facility can take to reduce the risk of serious injury because a resident wandered out of the building according to iAdvance Senior Care.

  • Ongoing risk assessments of residents should be done to determine which residents are at a higher risk for elopement.
  • About half of elopements happen within the first days of admission. New residents should be in rooms away from exits, sensory stimulus should be limited, there needs to be enough oversight, staff needs to be told about the resident's risks and unusual behavior or wandering needs to be reported.
  • There are “anti-wandering systems” available to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They sound an alarm if a person with the device gets near an outside door or other dangerous area.
  • If the resident was close to leaving the facility, staff needs to go over what happened to prevent another occurrence.
  • All staff, including housekeeping, dietary and those involved in therapy need to make prevent wandering part of their jobs.

If it’s discovered a resident left a facility by him or herself, a facility needs to have a plan to search for the person inside and outside the facility, execute it and notify local law enforcement. The facility should have a recent photo to give to searchers and the media and have periodic drills to measure how effective and practical the plan would be if an elopement actually happens.

If a nursing home resident wandered away from a facility or wandered into a dangerous situation inside a nursing home, it’s the combination of two things: the person is capable of wandering where he or she shouldn’t be and the resident wasn’t prevented from doing so by the facility. Often these types of mistakes by nursing home management and staff are the results of negligence and could be the basis for a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to negligence by a nursing home in the South Florida area, contact Boca Raton nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. You can discuss your case, how the law may apply and your best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your loved one’s injuries.

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