Assisted Living Neglect Leads to Wandering Deaths, Article Reports

Assisted living homes are common choices for elderly people living with dementia due to the care and supervision they provide. However, assisted living residents with dementia often wander from their facility if they are confused. In these circumstances, identifying and searching for the missing resident can be the difference between life and death. When assisted living facilities fail to notice a resident is missing, their inaction can have tragic consequences.

As a troubling Washington Post article reported, dozens of assisted living residents have died after wandering away without any staff noticing. According to the article, over 2,000 assisted living or dementia care residents have wandered away unnoticed or were left unattended outside since 2018. Nearly 100 have died. After investigating each incident, state inspectors often found evidence of severe neglect in these facilities. Moreover, in one out of ten cases the Post identified, regulators cited facilities for failing to properly report their missing residents. In one extreme example, an Alzheimer’s patient wandered from her facility, and staff did not look for her until eight hours later when they found her collapsed on the frozen ground. She later died at a hospital from prolonged exposure.

How Does the Government Regulate Assisted Living Facilities?

According to the Washington Post article, the federal government does not regulate assisted living facilities as it does with nursing homes. Individual states regulate assisting living facilities instead, and their level of regulation can vary widely depending on the state. In many states, regulatory fines are minimal, and facilities have largely evaded serious consequences. Maryland requires new assisted living employees to complete five hours of training on dementia and at least some training on other topics. The state does not mandate a certain ratio of residents to staff, meaning there is potential for understaffed facilities. Maryland’s Health Care Commission allows the public to look up complaints and inspection reports for each facility, including those with secure Alzheimer’s units.

Can You Recover Compensation for Maryland Nursing Home Neglect?

Maryland law allows you to sue the facility responsible for neglecting your loved one. A nursing home or assisted living neglect lawsuit proceeds similarly to a typical personal injury lawsuit for negligence. To hold a facility liable for neglect, the plaintiff must prove the facility owed the resident a duty of care; violated that duty by neglecting the resident; caused an injury through their negligence; and that the resident suffered harm. Because the government underregulates assisted living facilities, holding the facility accountable for neglecting your loved one can provide justice to all of its residents.

Do You Need a Maryland Assisted Living Neglect Attorney?

If you or a loved one has suffered neglect at a Maryland nursing home or assisted living facility, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are here to help. Our experienced elder abuse and neglect attorneys will support you through every step of the legal process to help recover the compensation you need and deserve. We proudly serve clients throughout Prince George’s, Charles, Baltimore, and Montgomery County. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-654-1949.

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