Patient Left In Courtyard Dies of Hyperthermia

In nursing homes who care for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, special care must be taken to prevent these patients from wandering from the facility. As such, they often have separate wards for these patients, or wings, where doors remain locked and alarmed. In one case, a nursing home is facing a lawsuit over the death of a dementia patient who suffered from hyperthermia after being left in the courtyard. The News-Gazette reports on the incident.

A lawsuit has been filed against the Champaign County Nursing Home where a 78-year-old woman died after being left in a hot courtyard.

The family of Sonja J. Kingston, an Alzheimer’s patient at the facility filed the suit after their loved one was left unsupervised in a courtyard and died as a result.

Kingston’s body was found in an exterior courtyard on a day when the high temperature reached 87 degrees. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup confirmed that hyperthermia was a cause of death with dementia as a factor.

Video footage from the nursing home appeared to show Ms. Kingston entering the courtyard just before 2 p.m. Staff members did not begin searching for her until about 5:15 p.m.

One staff member, who was later relieved of her duties, saw Ms. Kingston at about 3 p.m. that day.

An investigation revealed that the doors to the courtyard were propped open despite policy indicating the contrary. The doors of the memory-care unit were supposed to remain locked and alarmed.

The Illinois Department of Public Health fined the facility $25,000 in connection with Kingston’s death. The fine was instituted in light of the failure to ensure that the doors to the courtyard were closed and the alarms were engaged.

Have you or a loved one been the victim of abuse or neglect while a patient in a nursing home? You may have a case. Let the attorneys at the law offices of Schenk Smith fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call today.