Dementia Patient Allowed To Wander In The Cold, Dies of Hypothermia

Many nursing homes and long-term care facilities put additional protections into place for residents and patients with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. These patients are often kept in separate wards or wings and doors to the outdoors remain locked when supervision is not present. Some even employ bracelets with sensors that sound alarms if a patient wanders. There are cases where even these precautions cannot prevent tragedy from occurring.

USA Today reports on a nursing home resident who succumbed to hypothermia after being left outside in the cold for 8 hours despite an alarm system.

76-year-old Phyllis Campbell had a history of dementia and wandering off. She wore a monitor that should have set off alarms if she went outside. Still, Campbell told a member of the staff at the nursing home she was going home and went outside.

She was discovered dead of hypothermia eight hours later.

Staff members told investigators that they did not perform bed checks even though they had indicated the task had been completed. This is a huge oversight that will definitely come into play in any future investigations.

Temperatures were hovering around zero and it is likely that Campbell died within an hour or two after going outside.

State reports indicate that staff members involved with the incident at Hilty Memorial Home were placed on leave. However, a spokesperson for the home said that those four staff members were no longer with the organization.

The results of the investigation have been handed over to county prosecutors. Our condolences to the woman’s family.