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Patient Wandering & Elopement In Nursing Homes: A Serious Danger

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are attractive options for families who have an elderly loved one suffering from dementia. Having multiple people overseeing the care of a patient with a mental disorder seems the logical thing to do to prevent harm from coming to the person. Unfortunately, that’s not any guarantee of safety at all.

Up to 31 percent of nursing home residents and as many as 70 percent of elderly community residents wander at least once according to scientific estimates. The mentally impaired are at high risk to be injured or die during wandering incidents. Dementia and wandering are closely linked to one another.

With help from one of our nursing home abuse lawyers, you can get any questions answered if you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused in their care facility. 

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Patient Wandering In Nursing Homes

Patient wandering in a nursing home or assisted living facility occurs when an elderly resident wanders around the facility unsupervised. According to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center, six in 10 people with dementia will wander. Wandering is a life-threatening practice that can result in many types of accidents ranging from falls to fractures to head and brain injuries.

Elopement Risk in Nursing Homes

Elopement is when wandering results in the patient leaving the premises of the care facility without the knowledge of staff medical professionals. Elopement has the same dangers as wandering but with an increased likelihood of death.

There is a 25 percent fatality rate if the patient isn’t found within the first 24 hours of an elopement. The chance of death increases as the time of missing increases. About 40 percent of patients die when missing for 72 or more hours. The death rate rises to 54 percent for elderly missing 96 hours or longer. The majority of deaths are due to hyperthermia, dehydration, and drowning.

Wandering and Elopement Prevention

Patient wandering and elopement have been known about for many decades. There are multiple measures that can and should be taken by elder care facilities to prevent these highly dangerous events. With such high percentages of events, care facilities are on notice they happen and have a duty to prevent them.

Many measures are available to nursing homes or assisted living facilities to protect your loved one. Examples include:

  • Monitor and lock all exits
  • The use of radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices
  • Staff training that helps identify patients who may be wandering and procedures for preventing unobstructed travel through the facility
  • Formal assessment tools such as the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) or the Rating Scale for Aggressive Behavior in the Elderly (RAGE) determine whether a patient is at high risk for wandering
  • Facility design that makes wandering less dangerous or likely for high-risk patients
  • Response procedures for all staff when a wandering or elopement incident is detected

There’s no shortage of prevention methods, and more techniques and technology become available on a regular basis. So how is it that wandering and elopement still happens so often?

The answer to the above question is frequently the negligent failure to provide adequate prevention measures or the failure of staff to utilize those measures.

Contact A New York Elderly Neglect Attorney

Incidents of elopement or wandering are well known and multiple prevention measures are available. The risk of death or injury is widely known to be very high. When it still happens, the reason is highly likely to be negligence.

The nursing home neglect attorneys at Banville Law have dealt with many cases of wandering and elopement, and we’re dedicated to putting an end to these life-threatening events that are easily prevented. We care about the safety and well-being of the elderly.

Can I Sue A Nursing Home For Infections & Sepsis? Find out here. 

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