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Nursing homes have responsibility to keep patients secure

A previous post on this blog talked about how an Illinois nursing home got fined after a patient left a nursing home without being noticed. The home received the fine for violating rules and regulations that govern nursing homes.

Many Illinois homes are going to have to at some point deal with a patient who has dementia and who is going to try to get out of the home, even though doing so can present real safety issues for the patient, particularly if the patient gets confused or disoriented while not in the nursing home.

On the one hand, a nursing home patient, at least if the home accepts Medicaid or Medicare patients, has the right to be free from getting restrained, so a nursing home does not have the option of just keeping patients from moving around freely.

On the other hand, it almost goes without saying that the caregivers of a patient who has dementia need to anticipate that the patient may wander off. The home must therefore take appropriate precautions to keep the safely on the grounds of the facility.

While the end result of these competing interests is that the nursing home has to perform a balancing act, it is incumbent upon them to do so in order to make sure that a patient has freedom of movement but is able to stay safe in the event of a problem with dementia, confusion or a related condition.

If a patient does manage to escape and winds up getting hurt or dying as a result, then a nursing home can be accountable for this apparent act of nursing home neglect. The family of the victim can seek compensation for things like medical bills caused by the incident, funeral expenses and non-economic damages like emotional distress or pain and suffering.

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