Our Michigan assisting living attorneys recently settled a wrongful death case prior to filing a lawsuit against a Kent County assisted living facility. The claim involved the facility and the nursing staff’s failure to properly monitor the resident who was known to be at increased risk for eloping and wandering from her room. Although she had alarms on her doors at one point, the alarms were improperly removed by the staff a few weeks before the patient left her room and walked out one of the building doors towards to a nearby pond. Unfortunately, as she neared the pond, she fell face first on the cement and fractured several bones in her face. She also developed a massive brain bleed. As a result of such injuries, the patient went into a coma and passed away a short time later from her brain bleed.
A well-run, ethical assisted living facility will have a procedure in place to identify patients at risk of wandering – also called eloping. This procedure will include methods for assessing risks, individualized treatment plans to prevent wandering, and staff training to ensure all team members observe the best practices for safety. The physical facility will also be built with safe elopement prevention in mind, including security locks on key doors, secure elevators and monitoring equipment. Facilities that fail to observe these basic practices put residents at risk of injury and death from traffic, accidental falls and other hazards while they are wandering outside the nursing home.
Our attorneys were contacted by the family and did a thorough investigation of the case. We were able to establish the assisted living facility was negligent in their supervision of the resident and this was the cause of her untimely death. On behalf of the family, we were able to settle the wrongful death case prior to filing a Complaint in Kent County Circuit Court for a confidential settlement amount.