What is elopement? The word evokes an image of two people running off and getting married. However, in the context of a nursing home, elopement is when a resident leaves the nursing home unaccompanied. This could lead to very serious consequences. At The Dickson Firm, we have seen residents who elope from the nursing home in inclement weather and suffer hyperthermia and even die as a result of exposure. We have seen residents who elope from the nursing home and are involved in automobile collisions and tragically, some of these residents have been killed. This is a very serious problem.
There are state and federal laws that govern the care of nursing home residents in nursing homes. These laws require the nursing homes to provide their residents with adequate supervision to prevent accidents. This includes adequate provisions to make sure the nursing home residents do not leave the nursing home unattended. There are a variety of ways this can be accomplished. Nursing home residents sometimes need to be in locked units so they cannot leave unattended. Residents with severe dementia often need to be in an Alzheimer's unit and often these units are locked so the residents cannot leave unattended and become injured. We've also seen residents who wander into the various areas of the nursing home where they shouldn't be, like the kitchen or the laundry room and are often exposed to chemicals which can cause them harm.
Nursing homes are required to be staffed properly so they can adequately supervise their residents. Understaffing is a significant problem in the nursing home industry. Many times the nursing homes are owned by large corporations who seek to save money by reducing the amount of staff at the nursing home. Often the nursing homes are inadequately staffed and not enough staff members are available to care for the residents and adequately supervise them. This often leads to harm for the residents.
Sometimes nursing homes claim that they cannot adequately supervise their residents because they are not allowed to restrain them. While it is true that the nursing homes are not legally allowed to restrain their residents, this does not mean that there is nothing that can be done with respect to elopement in the nursing home or with respect to falls in the nursing home. Nursing home residents can have alarms that go off if the nursing home resident tries to get up. This alerts the staff if the resident is up out of their chair or out of their bed so they can be tended to. Nursing home residents can wear bracelets that alert staff of their activity. Residents can have a bracelet on that sets off an alarm if they get near a door. Further, the facility can be laid out and staffed in such a way that the nursing home keeps an eye on their residents.
If you suspect that someone you love has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, or if someone you love has suffered injury in a nursing home, call the lawyers of The Dickson Firm at 1 (800) OHIO-LAW, as we would be happy to talk with you.