Pediatric Elopement in Hospitals – What it is and how to prevent it

Posted by on August 11, 2023 10:11 am

Pediatric elopement in hospitals is a serious issue that can have tragic consequences. Every year, thousands of children run away from hospitals without warning, putting themselves in danger. Parents and staff can use the following tips to create a safe environment for patients and keep them from running away.

What is pediatric elopement?

Pediatric elopement is defined as a child leaving a hospital without the permission of their parents or guardians. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including boredom, anxiety, confusion, or curiosity. Regardless of the reason, pediatric elopement is a serious safety issue that can lead to tragic consequences.

Learn more about what elopement is here. 


Hospitals should be concerned about pediatric elopement because it can put children in danger. Children who run away from hospitals are at risk of being hit by a car, falling and injuring themselves, or becoming lost and unable to find their way back. In some cases, pediatric elopement can even lead to death.

This is especially important for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The first-ever study on pediatric elopement in children with ASD was conducted in 2012 and found that 49% of children with ASD attempted to leave the hospital at least once after 4 years of age. Of those who eloped, 24% were in danger of drowning and 65% were in danger of being hit by a moving vehicle.


There are several things that parents can do to help prevent their children from eloping:

  • Make sure that your child is always supervised by a responsible adult.
  • Keep a close eye on your child, especially if they are known to attempt to elope or have done so in the past.
  • Teach your child about hospital rules and why it is important to stay on hospital premises.
  • Encourage your child to tell you or another responsible adult if they feel like they want to leave the hospital.
  • Work with hospital staff to create a safety plan for your child.

Warning Signs

What are some of the warning signs that a child may be considering elopement from the hospital, and what should staff do if they notice any of these signs in a patient? 

Look out for the following signs:

  •  Expressing a desire to leave the hospital
  •  Asking questions about how to leave the hospital
  •  Trying to open doors or windows
  •  Climbing on furniture
  •  Hiding in closets or under beds

If staff members notice any of these warning signs, they should take immediate action to prevent the child from leaving. This may include increasing supervision, keeping doors and windows locked, or creating a safety plan with the parents.

Preventing Pediatric Elopement

What are some of the steps hospitals can take to prevent pediatric elopement from happening on their premises?

Here are several steps:

  1. Increase staff supervision of pediatric patients.
  2. Keep doors and windows locked at all times.
  3. Install security systems, such as a pediatric elopement system, cameras, and alarms.
  4. Work with parents to create safety plans for their children.
  5. Educate staff and parents about the dangers of pediatric elopement.
  6. Raise awareness about pediatric elopement among the hospital community.

Of these steps, a pediatric elopement system, such as the Kidz system from Accutech, is the most effective way to protect patients. 

The Kidz Pediatric Elopement System combines the use of a comfortable wristband with a perimeter monitoring system to send alerts if a patient has wandered beyond their room or the accessible area. The beauty of a pediatric elopement system is that it allows for increased freedom while providing constant monitoring when parents and/or staff cannot always be present. 


If your child is hospitalized, make sure to ask about what steps the hospital is taking to prevent pediatric elopement. And if you are a hospital staff member, be sure to do your part in preventing this serious safety issue. 


When it comes to pediatric elopement, there are many misconceptions and myths that can lead to misunderstandings and even dangerous situations. One common myth is that only children with autism or other developmental disorders are at risk of eloping. However, the reality is that any child can wander away from their caregiver or hospital room without warning. Another misconception is that only young children are at risk of eloping, but older children and teenagers can also be at risk. It's important for parents and hospitals to be aware of these misconceptions, as well as the potential risks and factors that can contribute to pediatric elopement. By understanding these issues, we can work together to keep children safe and secure.

By following these tips, parents and hospital staff can work together to keep pediatric patients safe from the dangers of elopement.

Topics: Kidz