Nursing Home Found at Fault for the Death of Resident Who Wandered Outside

An assisted-living facility and one of its maintenance workers are being blamed for poor supervision of a resident with Alzheimer's disease who wandered outside and died of hypothermia last November. The Department of Health determined the woman left through an external gate that should have been locked, and her caregivers waited too long to initiate a missing-person search.

The woman was found in a wooded area at about 11 a.m. Nov. 22 — roughly 19 hours after caregivers last reported seeing her. Thus the report said the staff failed to follow protocol in a timely manner. Police found tracks from a walker on the floor of the facility's underground garage. They surmised the woman used her walker, which was found near her body, to wheel across the garage and out the gate that led to the woods.

The gate is typically locked after hours, but a maintenance worker admitted he had used the exit at the end of his shift Nov. 21 as a shortcut to his car. He failed to lock
it or report it unlocked, according to the report. The maintenance worker who opened the locked door was fired and the facility has taken steps to correct their actions. 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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