Last week on our Chicago medical malpractice law blog, we discussed the tragic death of an Illinois nursing home patient in January after he left a Belleville facility without any workers or nurses noticing. The 77-year-old man suffered from dementia and heart disease and had been a patient at the home for seven years. He was found just a block away from the home in a heavily wooded area a few days after his Jan. 14 disappearance. According to reports, the man died of hypothermia.
This sort of incident could certainly prompt families to file a lawsuit over a loved one’s wrongful death, citing negligence and failure to supervise. But this case also may cause many to question whether or not our nursing homes in Illinois have proper security features and policies in place to protect patients. Many have also questioned whether or not the Belleville facility violated any policies or failed to provide quality care to patients, which could have contributed to the dementia patient’s escape and death.
After investigating last month’s tragic incident, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that the facility has since received eight citations for the man’s disappearance and death.
According the Illinois Department of Public Health’s report, Jan. 14 was not the first time that the patient with dementia had attempted to escape the Belleville facility. In fact, within the past few months, the man had attempted to leave at least twice. However, even after the man attempted to leave the facility on his own on two other occasions, nursing home employees failed to make sure that the patient was fitted with a monitoring device in case he tried to escape again.
The report also stated that the nursing home failed to tell the nurse who was in charge of the patient the day he disappeared that he had a history of trying to leave the facility unattended. The nurse said that the patient’s Care Plan should have indicated the concerning behavior, but the Care Plan was never revised.
An attorney for the victim’s family stated that these findings clearly indicate that the nursing home was negligent and could have taken better steps to prevent the patient from escaping.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Ill. public health agency issues 8 citations against nursing home after resident’s death,” Feb. 11, 2012