Manage Patient Elopement with a Real-Time Visibility Platform
Adam Peck, Senior Director of MarketingIt may be accurate to refer to patient elopement, in which a cognitively or mentally impaired patient leaves a caregiving facility unnoticed, as the healthcare industry’s deepest secret. Indeed, patient elopement and wandering have become such serious issues that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have even begun monitoring certain facilities where large numbers of patients are known to "elope" on a regular basis. At one such facility—the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas—a total of 31 untreated psychiatric patients who were admitted to the hospital’s emergency department eloped in a single day last September. According to hospital reports, at least some of those patients arrived at Baylor with suicidal or homicidal thoughts. This doesn’t need to happen. Every instance of patient elopement is, of course, a tragic situation. And not only for the patient and the facility in question, but for the family members of the patient as well, who are often ill-equipped to deal with such an unexpected crisis. Patient elopement can also be deadly, and incredibly expensive. According to the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP), a Florida jury recently awarded $6 million in a lawsuit against a facility that was said to be aware of a resident’s habit of wandering, but did nothing to prevent it. A similar situation occurred in Louisiana, when a jury awarded $200,000 to a woman whose husband was hit and killed in traffic after he eloped from a facility.