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Elopement and Wandering

Definition - What does Elopement and Wandering mean?

Elopement and wandering occurs when a resident of a healthcare facility leaves the facility without the knowledge of the staff. Patients with limited thinking skills or who suffer from dementia are the most likely to wander because their condition leaves them unable to reason or judge. Other wandering patients include those who become disoriented or those who have Alzheimer's Disease.

Medical facilities have the legal obligation to protect and serve all of their customers. Failure to provide adequate safety measures can leave them open to legal consequences. Whether the attempts to wander are purposeful and repeated or if they are due to simply getting lost, it is important that all medical service providers develop strategies to eliminate elopement and wandering.

Dangers of Elopement and Wandering

Studies have shown that the unauthorized leaving of the premises can be one of the highest types of civil claims filed against a facility. In fact, elopement and wandering can lead to serious accidents. Patients may fall down stairs, drown, get hit by a car, or die due to over-exposure.

If someone you love has been injured after leaving a medical facility and the facility did not do enough to protect their safety you may be able to file an injury claim and receive compensation. To win a medical malpractice claim you will have to prove negligence, which means you will have to prove the facility breached their duty of care to the injured party.

Steps the facility should have taken to ensure their patient's safety may include identifying at-risk patients, assessing the risk, developing a risk-prevention plan, and making sure if there is an escape there is an adequate emergency response to find the missing patient or resident.

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