Nurses Charged After Resident Dies From Wandering in Freezing Weather


Three nurses are facing criminal charges after resident wanders out of nursing home and dies.


An article in the Courier reports that a resident of a Northern Ohio nursing home was found dead after she wandered out of the home into bellow freezing temperatures in the snow. Phyllis Campbell was found several yards away from the facility the morning after she wandered out of the nursing home and into freezing cold conditions. The article states that she was found about eight hours later, and there are criminal charges issued potentially because the nursing home documented checks being done on the resident.

The article states that:

Campbell left the building through a set of doors whose alarm should have gone off, the report said. Employees tested the alarm system on the doors the day after Campbell’s death. They found that when the doors were propped open, the alarm did not consistently go off.

Propping open those doors was common so staff could freely walk between units, according to the state report. A bracelet Campbell wore also failed to sound an alarm, according to the report. Two state-tested nurse aides said they did not check on Campbell at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., though checks were documented as being completed, the report said.

Nursing homes often utilize alarms and monitoring bracelets to keep track of residents who may wander off.

Risks and Prevention

Often times, residents who are at risk for wandering have a history of wandering. Other times, care providers can assess that someone with out a history can still be at risk because of other indications. When there is a known risk, nursing homes should implement security protocols such as:

  1. Door alarms to alert staff if a resident is leaving a safe zone or the facility. This can include wrist bracelets so the alarm only sounds for certain, at-risk residents.
  2. Locked units to prevent at-risk residents from wandering off.
  3. Window locks or guards.
  4. Tracking systems for residents, which can include GPS systems to quickly locate residents.
  5. Seclusion rooms.
  6. Search plans, rapid response, team coordination to recover residents quickly and safely

Most of these are ineffective if they are disabled or ignored. It is also extremely problematic that the staff falsified documents relating to the resident’s well being. This is negligent behavior and it is so wrong.

Almost all elopement injuries and deaths are preventable. If you are concerned that you loved one may be at risk for wandering off, please visit our page that details risk factors and other information on elopement here.

Hours Later Resident is Found

According to the article, the resident’s body was not found for hours. On the morning of January 7th, an aide came into the resident’s room to check on her and could not find her. It was not until then that the staff began looking for her. This means that she was missing for around eight hours. According to the article, it was particularly cold during that time period.

Campbell left the building around 12:35 a.m. through the dining room exit doors, according to the report. The temperature was 2 degrees below zero and there was snow on the ground.

A nurse aide entered Campbell’s room at about 8:20 a.m. Jan. 7 and discovered she was not there. Staff began looking for her. Campbell’s body was found about 30 feet into the courtyard, near a swing set.

This was a preventable tragedy. This poor woman was alone, cold, and most likely extremely confused.

Criminal Charges for Staff

In this case, three of the staff members from the Pandora Nursing Home are facing criminal charges. According to the article they are facing counts of involuntary manslaughter, forgery, and gross patient neglect. But what about the nursing home administration?

The Pandora Nursing Home, much like other nursing homes, are owned by larger corporations that remain untouched in situations like this. They are responsible and should be held responsible as well. The Pandora Nursing Home, which is owned by Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio bears the responsibility of keeping residents safe, hiring well trained and professional staff, and maintaining safety equipment.

If your loved one has experienced neglect and was allowed to wander away from their care facility and suffered injury or death, please contact me. Almost all elopement cases could have been prevented and I will launch an investigation to determine whether the nursing home was negligent. 11 comment below or contact me here if you believe your loved one was a victim of this preventable negligence.

You can read the full article here.

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