Wandering Away From an Ohio Nursing Home Facility

One would think that the most basic part of caring for nursing home patients is making sure that they are in the nursing home. Shockingly, in Ohio and all over the country, nursing home patients wander away from their facilities and are injured or even killed. And many of those injuries happen on or very near to the nursing home’s grounds.

Technically, Wandering (also referred to elopement) refers to a cognitively impaired person moving about a nursing home or long-term care facility without appreciation for where they are going.  In some cases of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, the patient may attempt to leave the facility.

wandering from ohio nursing homes unsupervisedA nursing home resident’s propensity to wander / elope should be identified in an initial care plan and preventative measures should be implemented by the facility. In a study involving over 15,000 cognitively impaired nursing home patients, researchers from the International Research Consortium on Wandering found that one in five were prone to aimless wandering through nursing home facilities, putting themselves at increased health risk. This study indicates that these are serious problems throughout nursing homes in the United States.

Some of the stories of nursing home patients wandering from their facilities are tragic, and have led to injury and even death. If a nursing home’s negligence in allowing a patient to wander causes an injury to that patient, or even a fatality, that nursing home may be facing legal consequences.

Although fairly rare, it is enough of a problem that wandering was directly addressed in the federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. That law requires nursing homes to provide residents with adequate supervision to prevent wandering or elopement. A nursing home may be found liable for failing to prevent wandering or elopement while a patient is in its care.

Injuries associated with wandering can include an increased incidence of weight loss, fatigue, sleep disturbance, getting lost, injuries as a result of falling and untimely death. Nursing home residents who elope may get lost, may not be able to find the way back to the nursing home, and may suffer from heat or cold exposure or another medical crisis.

One recent case even found a wandering patient drowned in a puddle in front of the nursing home itself. Another case involved a nursing home which had an “open door” policy of allowing residents to come and go as they pleased. This resident, who was under medication and had Alzheimer’s disease, died in a field down the street from the facility

Close supervision of residents suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is necessary in order to prevent wandering and elopement. Several factors can increase the likelihood of a nursing home resident becoming injured as a result of wandering or elopement. These include:

  • Failure to hire adequate staff to properly supervise the resident
  • Failure to properly train staff on how to supervise residents
  • Failure to install alarms or other safety devices to prevent wandering

These kinds of tragedies can easily be prevented. Common preventative measures should include:

  • Providing an adequate number of staff to supervise residents
  • Training nursing home staff on how to identify wanders
  • Using bed, wheelchair or door alarms
  • Re-directing patients who are wandering
  • Utilizing door and window alarms

Nursing homes must acknowledge the risks associated with patient wandering and elopement and take steps to minimize incidents from occurring in the first place. When facilities fail to implement preventative measures, they may be held responsible for the resulting patient injuries.

If your loved one has had the unfortunate experience of wandering away from his or her nursing home facility, please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 or sending us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.  You may very well be able to take legal action against the home.

For additional information about wandering from a nursing home and other types of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect in Ohio , please visit http:///www.stopohionursinghomeabuse.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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6 Comments on “Wandering Away From an Ohio Nursing Home Facility”

  1. Wilma Wrenne Says:

    Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!?


  2. Elizabeth Harnonku Says:

    We, as educators, must take the continued steps forward to provide a place for student centered technology in the same way that they are devouring it up outside of class.



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