Residents’ wanderings lead to nursing home negligence lawsuit

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Mar 09, 2012 in Nursing Home Injury or Death

Families who entrusts the care and wellbeing of their loved ones to nursing home employees have certain expectations about how their loved ones will be cared for and looked after. It's expected that nursing home facilities and employees take great measures to ensure the overall wellbeing and safety of their residents. Unfortunately, some nursing home facilities around the country and in states like West Virginia fall short.

A nursing home recently came under fire when it was reported that a second resident in the span of two months had wandered off facility grounds. The most recent case of nursing home neglect and wandering off occurred when a 58-year old resident suffering from both bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia left the facility unnoticed and was found a short time later at a nearby truck stop.

Thankfully, the man did not suffer any apparent injuries and an investigation into the matter is pending.

The first and more serious instance of a resident wandering off occurred at the facility in mid-January when a 77-year old resident suffering from dementia was able to walk out of the nursing home unnoticed. Two days later, the resident was found dead in a frozen creek about a block from the nursing home.

While it's still not exactly clear how the 77-year old resident was able to leave the facility undetected, it was reported that no one had checked to ensure the door alarms were working properly and no staff reported seeing the resident leave.

In an effort to punish the facility and ensure additional similar instances of wandering off or eloping do not occur, nursing home regulators have fined the nursing facility and denied payment for new Medicaid and Medicare patients. They have also required additional staff training to help prevent wandering off.

Family members of the 58-year old are awaiting further investigation of the matter and have not filed any charges against the facility, while family members of the deceased 77-year old have brought a lawsuit claiming the facility is negligent in the death of their loved one.

Source: Belleville News, "Second missing resident raises 'big red flag' for nursing home, state inspector says," Kevin Bersett, Mar. 8, 2012

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