Wandering Patient Dies Outside Of Nursing Home | Michigan Wrongful Death Attorneys

Genevieve Klimczak, a 91 year-old Alzheimer’s patient, did not receive the proper care she deserved, and froze to death outside the doors of the nursing facility where she resided. Her nephew, Donald Lorenz, states she was an Alzheimer’s patient. She resided at McHenry Villa retirement community, also known as the Fox River Retirement Center. Last February, Klimczak went out an exit door near her room and was unable to get back into the building. The charges allege that Klimczak was able to wander without supervision, leave her room and exit out of a one-way, self-locking door.

The most disturbing part is that she was not discovered for more than 12 hours. Klimzak was found still outside the building and frozen to death on the sidewalk. It was reported to be as cold as seven degrees that night. The wrongful death lawsuit brought on Klimczak’s behalf asserts that the facility did not have an alarm or security cameras and did not follow through with its promise to maintain 24-hour security for its residents.

Specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendant knew that Klimczak suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was unable to care for herself. Lorenz claimed that defendants failed to maintain a safe environment and that the facility was not properly managed, resulting in his aunt’s death.

Wandering occurs when a resident with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other psychiatric diagnosis encounters a dangerous situation while moving around the nursing home facility unsupervised. A recent study states that 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander.  A person with dementia may not remember his or her name, or address, and can become confused, even in familiar places. This is why it is very unsafe for dementia residents to wander. (more…)

Elderly Resident Injured After Walking Away From Michigan Nursing Home

Our nursing home neglect attorneys are experts at investigating cases involving residents walking away from Michigan nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Walking away or wandering occurs when a resident leaves the nursing home, assisted living facility, or even their room without permission or proper assistance. Walking away or wandering away is not only dangerous for the resident; it can also be deadly. Michigan nursing homes or assisted living facilities should provide the best possible care ensuring that the proper supervision is given to each resident so that wandering does not occur. If a resident walks away from a nursing home and suffer injuries or even death, negligence may have occurred and it can give rise to a lawsuit for nursing home neglect against that Michigan nursing home. The nursing home lawyers at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. have successfully represented nursing home neglect victims against facilities for injuries and death caused from walking away.

Assessing A Resident’s Risk For Walking Away From Michigan Nursing Home

Assessing a patients risk for walking away can be challenging at times because wandering can be defined in numerous ways.  However, several tools are available to determine an individual’s tendency to wander. These tools are concisely described below:

  • Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI): a seven-point rating scale used to assess the frequency with which the patient displays any of 29 behaviors associated with agitation, a risk factor for wandering.
  • The Rating Scale for Aggressive Behavior in the Elderly (RAGE): the observer will rate the frequency with which the patient exhibits any of 21 aggressive behaviors during a 3-day period.
  • The Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI): a questionnaire used to score the frequency, severity, and distress associated with 10 to 12 behavioral areas common in dementia.
  • The Revised Algase Wandering Scale (RAWS): RAWS was designed specifically to assess an individual’s risk of wandering and comes in two forms:
    1. The community version (RAWS-CV): includes 37 areas that fall within five subscales. The rating scale is 1 to 5, with 1 indicating “never or unable” and 5 indicating “always.”
    2. LTC version (RAWS-LTC): a 1 to 4 scale (1=not a wanderer; 4=problem wanderer) to score patients on 19 areas allocated into three subscales: persistent walking, spatial disorientation, and eloping. Protecting Wandering Patients (more…)

Dementia Residents Wandering From Michigan Nursing Home

At Buckfire & Buckfire P.C., our nursing home attorneys in Michigan are experts at representing families of residents who suffer injuries or even death after wandering away from a nursing home due to dementia. We have significant experience in investigating wandering nursing home cases and use the evidence obtained to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of the family and resident. 

Wandering occurs when a resident with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other psychiatric diagnosis encounters a dangerous situation while moving around the nursing home facility unsupervised. A recent study states that 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander.  A person with dementia may not remember his or her name, or address, and can become confused, even in familiar places. This is why it is very unsafe for dementia residents to wander.

It is very common among people with dementia to wander, and can happen during any stage of the disease.  It is the Michigan nursing home’s responsibility to assess patients among admission, and develop care plans for at risk residents.  All elderly residents who have memory problems and are able to walk are at risk for wandering. Even in the early stages of dementia, a person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time. It’s important for the Michigan nursing home to plan ahead for this type of situation and properly notify all staff of at risk residents.

 Warning Signs Dementia Residents May Wander From Michigan Nursing Home

 Some residents in Michigan nursing homes may experience some of the following warning signs.  These signs should be documented by the nursing home staff and these patients should be provided with the appropriate supervision. These warning signs include, but not limited to:

  • Returns from a regular walk or drive later than usual
  • Tries to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work
  • Tries or wants to “go home,” even when at home
  • Is restless, paces or makes repetitive movements
  • Has difficulty locating familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom or dining room
  • Asks the whereabouts of current or past friends and family
  • Acts as if doing a hobby or chore, but nothing gets done (e.g., moves around pots and dirt without actually planting anything)
  • Appears lost in a new or changed environment

Recurring incidences of wandering resulting in a resident’s injury or death may signal nursing home neglect. (more…)

Michigan Nursing Home Resident Death From Winter Wandering

Buckfire & Buckfire P.C nursing home wrongful death attorneys are experienced with representing resident’s families who pursue lawsuits for the loss of their loved one due to wandering from a nursing home during a Michigan winter.  This act is very dangerous and occurs when a resident walks away from supervision without being noticed and enters into an unsupervised, unfamiliar and dangerous area.  When wandering occurs during the winter months it can result in death due to hypothermia. The elderly are often victims of cold-related illness resulting in death.  During the winter seasons from 1989-2011, a total of 407 hypothermia deaths have occurred and 182 were people age 65 and older.

Hypothermia is defined as a drop in body temperature to less than 94.1 degrees Fahrenheit as a result of exposure to cold weather.  Without immediate efforts to reverse the body’s core temperature, loss and restore it to safer levels, hypothermia can quickly lead to a dangerous loss of physical and mental abilities, unconsciousness and death.  Hypothermia is most dangerous during Michigan winters; the winter season is defined as October 1 to March 31 each year.  Most hypothermia deaths occur during the months of January and December; however, deaths due to hypothermia have been reported from September through May.

Claims for death from wandering during freezing cold weather will be brought against the responsible nursing home or assisted living facility.  Our experienced nursing home wrongful death attorneys have an in-depth understanding of lawsuits involving wandering cases against Michigan nursing homes or assisted living facilities. (more…)

Wandering From Nursing Home in Michigan Winter is Deadly

Our nursing home lawyers represent residents and their families for injuries suffered due to wandering from a nursing home in Michigan winter. We have significant experience in these types of cases and in-depth understanding of lawsuits involving injuries and death from wandering from nursing homes.

Wandering, also known as elopement, is when a resident experiences walking in an unsupervised and unsafe area. When a resident successfully leaves the nursing home or assisted living facility the possibility of entering into harm’s way is large, and many of times serious injury or even death can result.  In fact, winter season in Michigan is one of the most dangerous and deadly times for a resident to wander away from a nursing home or assisted living facility. This is because winter presents many unsafe and hazardous outside conditions, such as cold, wet, deadly snow, black ice, where a resident could slip and fall, and suffer serious brain injuries or a broken hip or rib, or cold temperatures, where a resident could freeze to death.

Prevention of Resident Wandering From Nursing Home in Michigan Winter

Wandering and elopement can result in serious injury, or even death.  During winter months, it is extremely important for the facility to take extra precautions to prevent wandering. When a resident has been identified to be at risk for unsafe wandering, or elopement, it is essential that the facility develop a plan of care. The plan of care should start with educating the staff on how to prevent wandering from occurring at a Michigan nursing home. Proper assessment of at risk wanderers will also result in less walk away residents.  Efforts to maintain function, promote safety, and compassionately assist residents to deal with the anxiety, need to be taken by nursing homes and assisted living facilities as well. In fact, provision of an individualized care plan that addresses the person’s physical and psychosocial needs is the effective approach to wandering.  

When a resident wanders and becomes incoherent of their surroundings, the results can be deadly.  This can all be prevented with proper supervision from the nursing home.  It the nursing home fails to provide the proper supervision needed for their residents, they are at fault for neglect. Injury or death due to unsafe wandering or elopement is a tragedy. (more…)

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