Patient elopements must be investigated


The risks, safety and quality control issues raised by incidences of patients leaving a healthcare facility without being properly discharged are a key area of concern for risk managers in 2013.

That is the view of Angie King, administrative director for patient safety and quality at St. Francis Hospital in Colombus, Georgia, and president of the Georgia Society Healthcare Risk Management (GSHRM).

A recent risk assessment for GSHRM’s members revealed that patient elopement is a widely experienced issue. King said that after an elopement occurs it is important to undertake a detailed examination of what happened and why.

“It’s important to do an intense drilldown on events that do happen and on top of that have an ongoing review of the data, and ask: what is the data showing?” she said. “We need to ask: why did they leave, was it a long wait time, are they not getting their medicines, are they just not going to be happy, was there a patient satisfaction issue?”

She added that significant risk factors sometimes accompany patient elopement. “If they leave the facility and their condition deteriorates or they should even die, then we need to assure we are doing due diligence to reduce the inherent risk in an elopement.”


Elopements, Georgia Society Healthcare Risk Management (GSHRM), Patients, healthcare risk management, patient satisfaction