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There is an increased risk of older and senior patients with various types of dementia wandering off from hospitals and special care facilities, putting them in danger of being injured. Assisted-living and other medical facilities in New York can implement four measures to protect and prevent at-risk patients from wandering.

The first step is determining which patients have the highest risk of wandering. The medical staff at a hospital or other treatment facility might not immediately realize that a new patient has dementia, particularly if there is no prior diagnosis. New senior patients should be tested for disorientation, memory problems and delirious behavior as well as remain under close observation for cognitive, mental or mood changes.

The next step is properly supervising potential wandering patients, such as ensuring that they are never left unsupervised while they wait for medical tests or treatments. If they are admitted for a long hospital stay, the staff should consider the room that the patients are placed in. The best rooms are those that are near high staff traffic or make the patients walk by the nurse's station before leaving the building.

The medical team should also reduce or eliminate the things that trigger dementia patients to wander, such as noise, foot traffic or other activities that confuse, irritate or distract them. Visual cues such as shoes, motorized vehicles, suitcases and regular clothing could also be triggers. Finally, nursing staff should treat the underlying cause of wandering with personalized strategies. They can talk to previous caregivers and family members to identify specific reasons why the patients leave, such as believing that they are looking for loved ones or going to work.

When patients are identified as high-risk wanderers but the medical staff does not take the proper measures to protect and prevent them from wandering, family members may want to discuss their situations with a medical malpractice attorneys if the patients become injured. Damages sought could include the costs of necessary medical treatment and other applicable amounts.

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