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Wandering Patients: Leading Cause of Nursing Home Injury and Death

Many elderly patients in nursing homes, especially those who suffer from dementia, may stray away from a care facility. While facilities are responsible for preventing such hazards, failure to supervise, inadequate staffing, and failed alarm systems all contribute to the risk of “walk-away” patients. This is a rising trend and a leading cause of injury and death for patients in nursing homes, especially among those who suffer from dementia.

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Wandering is a significant challenge, for caregivers as well as nursing home facilities. Patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s, memory loss, or other forms of dementia are at a higher risk of injury or death when they become lost or wander away from a care facility. Our Vero Beach nursing home injury attorneys are dedicated to representing victims of nursing home care negligence, including patients and their loved ones. In addition to providing experienced counsel in these complex cases, we are also committed to raising awareness concerning the potential risks faced by the elderly population.

What is wandering?
A patient who is unsupervised and leaves the premises without being noticed is considered wandering or a “walk away.” While many of these patients are gone only briefly or return unharmed, a significant number go missing and suffer serious injuries or death. In some cases, a patient who goes missing is never found.

Why do patients wander?
Patients with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s may suffer confusion or disorientation, making it difficult for them to recognize their surroundings. The patient may not even feel like they are lost or wandering without purpose. The patient likely believes they are looking for a bathroom, leaving work, or going to find a loved one, without knowing where they are or where they are headed.

How can nursing homes prevent wandering?
Nursing homes are responsible for ensuring that patients are safe and supervised. The patterns of individual patients should be recognized, especially if that patient is prone to wandering. Nursing homes should be aware of what may trigger restlessness, anxiety or the desire to wander. In addition to general supervision, nursing home facilities should be modified to ensure patient security. This means that individual rooms as well as exit doors should have entry and exit security and alarm systems when necessary.

Other precautions to keep patients safe
In addition to making sure patients do not leave the premises, there are other ways to protect a patient, including wrist bands or other forms of ID. Some families and care centers will also use GPS tracking devices so that individuals can quickly be located in the event that they have wandered away from a nursing home facility. Florida also has a “Silver Alert” program which is similar to the “Amber Alert” to help find missing persons.

Nursing home care facilities are responsible for supervision and ensuring that patients are kept safe from harm. In the event of an accident, injury, or wrongful death, the nursing home can be held liable. It is important to consult with an experienced advocate to discuss the details of your case and to protect your rights in the event of nursing home negligence or abuse.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:
Florida Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements: Neither Wise Nor Necessary, Part 1, Jan. 25, 2014, Boynton Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

Violation of Nursing Home Patient Privacy And Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Jan. 15, 2014, Sunrise Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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