Cutter Law P.C.


Are our loved ones safe in nursing homes?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not a resounding "yes". While we certainly hope that our loved ones are safe while living in nursing homes and retirement homes, accidents can and do happen.

One concerning issue is the possibility of a nursing home resident escaping from a facility and wandering.

Elopement is unsupervised wandering away from a nursing home facility.

The dangers of elopement

When a nursing home resident gets out of a nursing home facility and begins to wander, there are many potential risks:

  • Falling and suffering injuries or breaking bones
  • Wandering into traffic
  • Wandering into the woods, bodies of water or uneven terrain
  • Missing important medications or treatments
  • Exposure to extreme weather conditions
  • Hunger or dehydration

Elopement is avoidable. Nursing homes should take proper measures to ensure that residents do not leave the facility. When this happens, the results can be devastating.

An unnecessary death

Last year, an elderly man wandered from the nursing home where he was living in Bremerton, Washington. He was discovered in the parking lot in the middle of the night, shivering in 40-degree weather.

He was taken to the emergency room where he received treatment. Unfortunately, the staff made mistakes while administering care. His oxygen mask was not delivering enough oxygen, which resulted in excess carbon dioxide in his bloodstream. Additionally, fluids were administered rapidly through an IV, resulting in liquids to build up in his lungs.

The man died about 12 hours after he was found.

Holding nursing homes responsible

Nursing homes are responsible for the safety of residents. This includes taking measures to ensure that residents do not wander.

Nursing homes should be adequately staffed to ensure that all residents are accounted for. Residents prone to wandering should wear safety alarms. Staff should be informed of residents with high elopement risk. Alarms should be installed on exit doors.

When a resident wanders and gets injured or dies, the nursing home can be held accountable.

Free attorney consultation: If a loved one has been injured after wandering off of nursing home property, contact Cutter Law, P.C., at 888-285-3333.

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