Michigan has more than 400 nursing homes that are licensed and regulated by the Department of Community Health Bureau of Health Systems. Under their regulations, these facilities are expected to be in compliance with health and safety codes, including to keep patients safe and free from abuse. Sadly, these regulations are not always adhered to and, as a result, injuries happen.

Due to their declining faculties, some elderly residents tend to wander. When this happens, it is the duty of a care facility’s staff members to keep within the build or property grounds. Failing to do so could lead to detrimental results for a resident, as well as the possibility of a civil claim against a negligent staff member.

A lawyer who is well-versed in claims arising from wandering in Michigan nursing homes could help if your loved one suffered harm after not being properly supervised. The steps to establish how a staff member or facility was at fault is complex, meaning the help of a seasoned attorney could prove to be essential.

What Happens When Residents Leave Nursing Homes Without Supervision?

Wandering in Michigan nursing homes—also referred to as elopement—is a serious problem throughout the state. Residents can sometimes become confused and unaware of their surroundings, causing them to attempt to exit the building or the grounds of the care facility. If they can get out, they might be at risk for any number of perils, including:

  • Being hit by a car
  • Being attacked
  • Succumbing to the elements
  • Being attacked by an animal
  • Starvation or dehydration
  • Missing necessary medical care or medications

The resulting damages from these or other incidents could be severe and even life-threatening, leading to physical harm, emotional trauma, and financial strain due to required medical treatment. Because of this, it is important for a potential claimant to understand the rights of residents and what legal options might be available.

The Rights of Residents in Nursing Facilities

The Patient’s Bill of Rights, as found in the Michigan Public Health Code, defines the rights of nursing home residents. Essentially, no matter their medical or mental condition, residents are provided with:

  • The right to not suffer physical, mental, and sexual abuse
  • The right to be free from physical and chemical restraints, such as wrist restraints or certain medications—with some limited exceptions
  • The right to privacy pertaining to treatment and personal needs
  • The right to consideration and respect
  • The right to receive appropriate medical treatment and personal care

While these rights need to be provided to every resident—excepting certain situations—this does not, of course, mean that nursing home residents should be left unsupervised or be allowed to wander in Michigan nursing homes. Indeed, residents who are allowed to wander without supervision are not receiving care in line with the state’s bill of rights.

To ensure residents are safe, nursing facilities are required to take the necessary precautions in order to prevent their residents from leaving without supervision. This might include placing alarms on doors, installing security cameras, assigning extra staff to the resident who is prone to wandering, and even simply distractions.

Legal Help After a Loved One Wanders from a Michigan Nursing Home

If your loved one eloped from a nursing home that was liable for their care and safety, you might have legal recourse. Through a negotiated settlement or lawsuit, a tenacious lawyer who is experienced with cases stemming from wandering in Michigan nursing homes could work tirelessly to recover the compensation you and your loved one need.

However, there are important deadlines for filing claims that every resident should be aware of for taking legal action. To learn more, reach out to a knowledgeable attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. today.

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