A 75-year-old man walked away from his nursing home in Belleville, Illinois, and was found dead two days later. The man died of hypothermia brought on by exposure. This winter has been extraordinarily temperate by Chicago standards, but the first major snowstorm of the season fell just days before he was allowed to wander away.
The investigation should determine just how this accident happened. According to Belleville Police, the man left the Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Care at around 3 p.m. but wasn’t reported missing until 4 hours later. Needless to say, when you’re talking about a 75-year-old man in the winter, 4 hours is often the difference between life and death. In this case, it ended in one man’s death.
Nursing homes have an obligation to protect their residents from harm. Memory loss is a well known symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, but its real world implications are more complicated than it sounds. There isn’t a hard and fast rule governing what people remember and what they forget. Sometimes they lock onto events that are 10, 30, or 50 years in the past believing them to be the present. Awakening in a strange place, they try to make their way home. It’s a sad odyssey that can never be completed.
Residents who wander will do so over and over again. It is almost never an isolated incident. If this resident had a history of wandering away from groups, the nursing home should have had a care plan in place to address the habit.
When nursing homes know that a resident has a potentially dangerous issue, and they take no steps to address that problem, they must be held responsible.
If you have a loved one who has been injured in a nursing home, you can contact my law offices for a free and confidential evaluation of your case. At the law offices of Barry Doyle, we never charge a fee unless we take, and win, your case.
Barry G. Doyle is a personal injury lawyer in Chicago and the founder of the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, an Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect law firm dedicated to representing nursing home residents and their families.. If you or a loved one has been killed, injured or suffered neglect in a nursing home in Skokie, please order your free copy of A Family’s Guide to Nursing Home Lawsuits in Illinois. It’s full of helpful information that will help you protect your legal rights and is free to all Illinois residents.