An 87-year-old patient of an assisted living facility disappeared and was found later the same day dead in a snowy field. The patient was allowed to leave the assisted living facility unnoticed. Police were called when facility staff realized she was missing. A search party of over 20 police and fire rescue personnel was formed, and the patient’s body was found in a vacant lot about 150 yards from the home. The patient had dementia and was dressed in thin clothing in below-freezing temperatures. Read the story.
The article on the missing patient states, almost as a footnote, that “no foul play is suspected.” I think the article should read “no foul play is suspected other than from negligent staff of a facility that was supposed to protect a demented patient but instead allowed her to go outside unnoticed into sub-freezing temperatures wearing little clothing.” Aside from that foul play, I’m glad to hear there was no other foul play.
How could this elopement tragedy have been prevented? More staff, more vigilant supervision, and wander alarms that alert staff when patients attempt to leave the facility unnoticed. This post also comes sadly on the heels of my post yesterday about new tracking devices that locate demented elderly once they are missing. The assisted living facility here should never have allowed its patient to leave the facility while unsupervised and dressed as she was. To me, that’s negligence . . . and foul play!________________________________________________________________
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.