Another unnecessary death of an assisted living patient grabbed my attention in Greensboro, North Carolina. News reports indicate 85-year-old Edith Purvis walked out the side-door at a Loyalton Assisted Living facility on December 24th. She wasn’t discovered missing until staff at the facility conducted a routine bed check.
Ms. Purvis wasn’t located until several hours later when staff at the facility found her body close to the door she is believed to have exited from. Despite efforts to resuscitate her, Ms. Purvis was pronounced dead upon arrival at Moses Cone Hospital. Her death was primarily related to exposure to the freezing temperatures.
An investigation into the incident is underway by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service. However, at this time, it is apparent that the facilities failure to equip exterior doors with a device known as a door alarm, allowed Ms. Purvis to exit the facility without the knowledge of the staff. If the investigation by North Carolina Officials confirms the initial situation, it may face up to $20,000 in fines.
Wandering cases involving a death or severe injury to a patient at a nursing home or assisted living facility are a real tragedy simply because most cases could have been prevented with relatively basic safeguards.
When it comes to caring for people with dementia, many of which are able-bodied and active, facilities need to accurately asses if their facility is really capable of caring for them in the first place. In order to provide a safe atmosphere for dementia and Alzheimer patients facilities need to have:
- Door / Window alarms
- Keep dangerous materials safe guarded
- Have a system to track patients whereabouts
- Train staff regarding how to re-direct patients
For laws related to North Carolina nursing homes, look here.