5 Common Causes of Patient Elopement

Posted by on December 11, 2023 1:18 pm

Patient elopement can be a frightening situation for healthcare providers and loved ones. The causes of patient elopement can be vast and complex, and understanding them is crucial to prevent future incidents. This article will explore the common causes of patient elopement, shedding light on the many factors involved in this concerning phenomenon. From the need for freedom and autonomy to wandering tendencies, we will examine the complexities of why patients may choose to elope and how healthcare providers can work to prevent it.

1) Lack of Supervision

Patient elopement is a serious issue in healthcare, and one of the most common causes is lack of supervision. This can occur when there are not enough staff members on duty to provide adequate monitoring for patients who may be at risk of wandering off. It can also occur when staff members are overworked or distracted, leading them to overlook potential risks and not properly monitor patients.

2) Poorly Designed Facilities

Another common cause of patient elopement is poorly designed facilities that make it easy for patients to wander off unnoticed. For example, if a facility has multiple exits that are not monitored or locked, it increases the risk that a patient can slip away without being noticed. Other design flaws such as inadequate lighting or signage can also contribute to the problem.

3) Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment is another major factor in patient elopement. Patients with dementia or other cognitive impairments may become confused and disoriented, leading them to wander away from their care setting without realizing where they are going or why they are leaving. In some cases, these patients may even attempt to leave the facility in order to return home, even if they no longer live there.

4) Mental Illness

Mental illness can also be a contributing factor in patient elopement. Patients with severe mental illness may become agitated or paranoid and attempt to flee from their care setting in order to escape perceived threats or dangers. These patients may also become confused and disoriented due to their condition, making them more likely to wander off without realizing where they are going or why they are leaving.

5) Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can also increase the risk of patient elopement, as drugs and alcohol can impair judgment and increase impulsivity. Patients under the influence of drugs or alcohol may become confused and disoriented and attempt to leave the facility without realizing what they are doing or where they are going. 

Patient Elopement Solutions

Patient elopement can be a frightening and dangerous experience for all involved, but with the right tools, it can be prevented. Accutech's ResidentGuard wander management solution, and Kidz Pediatric Elopement are two options to consider when seeking solutions for this issue. These cutting-edge technologies provide peace of mind for medical professionals and loved ones alike by alerting them when a patient attempts to wander outside of designated areas.