What Is Elopement?
The term “elopement” refers to the behavior of pediatric wandering. Wandering behavior in kids can happen for a number of reasons and can be especially problematic for children with developmental disabilities, particularly children with autism (ASD).
Autistic children don’t have the same intuitive understanding of dangerous situations and don’t always know how to avoid them. They may not be able to alert authorities that they are lost or even realize they’re in a dangerous situation in the first place. They may make unsafe decisions that a neurotypical child would not make, such as getting into a stranger’s vehicle or walking directly into traffic (AppliedBehaviorAnalysisEDU.org).
Not only can children be seriously hurt after wandering from a safe location, but they could become lost or even lose their lives. These are some of the reasons that elopement is so dangerous, especially for autistic children. Some hospitals and children’s care facilities have started to install pediatric wandering security mechanisms or access control features to prevent elopement from occurring.
Can Elopement Be Stopped?
It’s possible to greatly reduce the chances of pediatric elopement through a variety of strategies. Vigilant supervision can help, but there are other ideas you could consider.
For example, you could invest in a pediatric elopement system. Especially for hospitals and healthcare facilities that care for autistic children, a pediatric elopement system should be a high priority. Parents rely on hospitals to watch out for their children when the parent can’t be there.
A pediatric elopement system can prevent elopement incidents by using a bracelet attached to the child that is synced to a perimeter monitoring system. When a child tries to leave an authorized area of a hospital, the perimeter system sends out an alert to nursing staff or other personnel that a child has wandered out of a safe part of the hospital. The staff can then take appropriate steps to thwart the child’s flight attempt before it’s too late.
Tips for Reducing the Risk of Elopement
Child elopement is a great risk, and hospitals that treat children need to have layers of security protection coupled with smart strategies to prevent child elopement. When it comes to children’s safety, there is no such thing as too many safety measures. Here are some ideas to combat elopement and keep children safe at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Electronic Access Control
Controlling all access points at a facility can keep a child safe. Even if they manage to leave the area of the hospital where they are safe, other mechanisms, such as doors that require card swipe access, could stop a wandering child in their tracks. Electronic access control prevents unwanted visitors from entering the building and could keep little ones from leaving pediatric wards unsupervised.
Direct supervision will, of course, be vital to the safety of children with wander tendencies. Many incidents of elopement can be prevented with careful supervision alone. While supervision isn’t perfect—because it only takes a second for a child to slip away—you still need to keep a watchful eye on children at all times.
Training and Education
Medical personnel, and anyone who takes care of kids in pediatric healthcare settings, should have thorough training on how to handle pediatric elopement. This personnel should be educated on how to manage elopement, how quickly elopement can happen, and the dangers of a child leaving a hospital without supervision, especially one with autism.
Strict Policies and Procedures
Well-planned policies and procedures can cut down on incidents of pediatric flight. When everyone knows the rules and adheres to them, negligence and carelessness are less likely to occur. Policies should be researched, updated, and strictly enforced to ensure they protect the best interests of children in hospitalized settings.
Surveillance equipment, locking doors, and a perimeter elopement system, such as Accutech’s Kidz Pediatric Elopement System, can avert tragedies. Hospitals should invest in these devices because hospital staff is relied upon to keep children safe while undergoing medical treatment.
Stop Pediatric Elopement in its Tracks With Help From Accutech
No one wants to be responsible for the loss of a child at their healthcare facility. To ensure that children are cared for and safe from pediatric elopement, you can follow the tips outlined above. You can also install electronic security measures that can greatly reduce the likelihood of a child leaving your facility undetected.
With the Kidz Pediatric Elopement System, children receiving medical care can be safe from the dangers of elopement behavior. Learn more about this system and about our other healthcare security solutions with a call to Accutech Healthcare Security Solutions.
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