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Nursing Home Elopement

Nursing home elopement or wandering cases arise when a nursing home resident, usually someone afflicted with dementia, general confusion or another more complex medical or mental impairment or condition, wanders off of the property without the knowledge of the nursing home staff. Elopement is usually associated with residents with Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Approximately one-half of all nursing home residents suffer from some form of dementia. Across the States: Profiles of Long-Term Care and Independent Living 11 (8th Ed., AARP Pub. Poly. Inst. 2009).

There are some published references that show that 20% of patients with dementia are reported to have wandered off the nursing home premises or away from the resident’s usual place at one time or another. With the number of nursing home residents who suffer from dementia on the rise, elopements and subsequent tragic injuries or death often occur.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases and nursing home elopement cases for more than 40 years. We are specialists in this area of the law. In one of our cases, a nursing home resident newly admitted to a facility supposedly specializing in Alzheimer’s disease patients was injured severely when he wandered away from the floor he was assigned and fell. He was found without shoes or socks or any kind of shirt. His feet were bloodied and his head had a sizable bruise and bump. When he was rushed to a nearby hospital and examined, it was found that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury that impaired him even more than his progressive Alzheimer’s disease. That tragedy could have been prevented had the nursing home employed well-trained staff, had adequate staffing in numbers and had the correct fall protection devices in place to ensure that falls would not occur. This resident was also on a fall protection alert.

In order to show nursing home liability, it must be proven that the facility chose not to meet the standard of care by preventing the elopement. In addition, it is important that it be shown that the facility failed to respond timely or appropriately after knowing that an elopement or wandering of one its residents had occurred.

In Illinois, nursing homes are regulated by the Nursing Home Care Act and must comply with the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), which is managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS). Illinois, like many other states, contract with CMMS to monitor nursing homes to make sure that they are in compliance with OBRA.

Nursing homes must comply with applicable Illinois laws and regulations. The most important pieces of the OBRA regulations deal with accident prevention, resident assessments and resident care plans.

It is important that Illinois nursing homes identify residents who may be at risk for wandering and elopement. These standards require nursing homes to screen incoming residents and to reevaluate them during their stay. Nursing homes are obligated to set forth individualized care plan setting out specific interventions and strategies to manage wandering behaviors and to prevent elopement. There are reported cases of nursing home residents wandering outside of the facility and are reported missing to authorities. In the award winning movie of 2014, Nebraska, the central father figure in the story is found wandering down a highway in search of the place that would award him his Publishing House prize money that he believes he was promised. Just a graphic example of how dangerous elopement and wandering can be to the elderly or infirm.

If you or a loved one has been involved in nursing home elopement and injury, contact Kreisman Law Offices 24 hours a day at 312.346.0045 or toll free 800.583.8002 for a free and immediate consultation, or complete a contact form online. We are here to assist you and your family so that responsible parties are held accountable for the injuries or death to individuals injured in nursing home elopement cases. We have more than 40 years of experience handling nursing home elopement cases. With our many years of experience in trying and settling nursing home elopement cases in Illinois, we have the know-how to best handle your case. Our service is unmatched.

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