Elderly Woman Dies of Hypothermia After Being Locked Outside of Nursing Home

Authorities in one state are investigating an assisted-living community where a resident died of hypothermia after getting locked outside the building on Christmas Eve. Staff at the facility found the 85-year-old outside of the building around 3 a.m. on Dec. 24. The elderly woman was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead just hours later, according to a police report. The executive director of the facility, estimated that the woman had been outside less than two hours before she was found.

On Dec. 30, a division of the State Department of Health and Human Services began investigating the death. A spokesperson for the agency said that if the facility is found culpable, it could face up to a $20,000 fine. The findings also could impact the status of the facility’s license.

The facility's executive director said doors are locked after dark for safety reasons to prevent anyone from entering the building. They are not locked from the inside, however. She said the woman was found near a side door, which staff believe is the one she used to leave. since the incident, alarms have been added to doors. Police also investigated the incident but closed their case without filing charges. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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