The decision to place a loved one in a skilled nursing home is often a difficult one. Families often experience emotional turmoil when making this decision to place their trust in strangers. An outward appearance of a facility is not always an accurate reflection of what kind of healthcare the facility will provide. Staffing is one of the most important things a facility can do to protect its residents. However, some nursing home operators choose to place profits over patients by understaffing, which places patients at risk. Elopement from the facility is one serious risk of understaffing. Elopement is when a vulnerable resident of the facility leaves the facility – often without anyone knowing – and can result in deadly harm. Residents who elope can walk into traffic, be exposed to the elements, or drown in a body of water. Recently, one nursing home resident died after being allowed to elope from a facility in winter.
How it happened
A resident of the nursing home wandered away from the facility at night. The patient suffered from dementia and had other health issues. Once the facility finally realized that he was gone, they contacted local authorities. Emergency officials and employees from the facility searched for the man throughout the night. Tragically, he succumbed to the elements and was found deceased the next morning.
His family may now wonder if the facility was at fault for not protecting their loved one and keeping him safe inside the nursing home. At this time, no charges have been filed against the nursing home, but the family may have the option to take legal action in the future.
Tragically, his is not the only case where death results from the failure to properly watch and protect patients with dementia. In a similar, very tragic case in Ohio in 2019, Mark Billiter, who suffered from dementia, was allowed to walk out the front door of the facility. According to local media reports, facility failed to notify either the family or police for at least 12 hours after he went missing. Mr. Billiter was found frozen to death two days later.
Seeking legal assistance
At Marynell Maloney Law Firm, we believe that accountability is critical to protect vulnerable patients in Texas nursing homes. We have successfully handled elopement cases against nursing homes – bringing some peace and closure to the devastated families.
Losing a loved one under any circumstances is not easy. But when that loss is due to negligence on the part of a nursing home, a whole other element of grief can be added to the equation. In that event, a family may decide to contact an attorney for assistance in evaluating whether the care was proper and whether the death should have been prevented. Nursing home negligence is a difficult legal matter. If you have a question about an elopement, or other harm that has come to a loved one in a nursing home, you can contact us.