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Is Wandering Off The Grounds (Elopement) Medical Malpractice?


Certain facilities like memory care units and psychiatric facilities have care plans in place that ensure that individuals who wander don’t wander anywhere that can hurt them. Because it is a part of the care plan, it constitutes medical malpractice when a patient “elopes” from the premises.

The term “elopement” is used to describe patients who have a propensity for wandering off the grounds but place themselves (and others) in danger when they do. Below, we’ll take a look at some possible cases that can be filed on the grounds of elopement.

Medical malpractice and injury to self 

If a patient has a history of wandering or eloping, then staff must be on notice to ensure that they remain on the premises. When they fail, that is professional negligence. Unfortunately, it’s harder to file a professional negligence lawsuit than it is to file a basic negligence lawsuit. For that reason, it’s not necessarily good that it’s considered medical malpractice. Nonetheless, it makes sense legally.

If a patient wanders off the premises and they are injured or killed, the family can file a medical malpractice lawsuit on the grounds of medical negligence and failure to adhere to the terms of a care plan.

Medical malpractice and injury to other 

Less common are lawsuits that allege an individual wandered off the grounds and injured someone else. It is still possible to file a professional negligence lawsuit against a care team that failed to ensure the safety of a resident when that resident causes injury to someone else. It’s so rare that I can’t think of any good examples. Such suits, however, remain within the realm of possibility.

A common elopement lawsuit 

Common elopement lawsuits involve individuals who go missing and the family or staff at a facility report the matter to authorities. Authorities attempt to track down the person, but often find them dead instead. The family files a lawsuit on the grounds that the facility failed to protect their loved one. The facility has very little room to defend this lawsuit.

Mostly, these deaths occur due to lack of care, lack of oversight, and understaffing of memory care facilities.

This will continue until someone sues 

Nursing facilities and psychiatric facilities that do not protect their wards from themselves are violating their duty of care to their patients, and their integrity as far as consumer rights go. They advertise themselves as being capable of protecting those with memory care issues or psychiatric perception disorders. If they are allowed to continue to advertise these capacities while simultaneously failing to provide needed supervision, they will continue to harm patients indefinitely.

Talk to an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer 

To initiate a lawsuit against a negligent medical services provider, call the Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers The Moses Firm today.

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