In December 2008, Anthony Garcia was a 68 year old husband living independently with his wife. He suffered a stroke and was admitted to Broward General Medical Center for care and treatment. Because of ongoing disorientation and confusion, he was sent to a Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home for rehabilitation. Even though Mr. Garcia was noted to have psychosis and altered mental status, he was not marked as an elopement risk in his initial nursing home care plan. He was not designated as a risk for elopement even though his initial assessment form indicated that he was an exit seeker and had attempted to leave the facility. The front door to the facility had an ongoing problem of staying locked at night which had been reported to the administration. The administration indicated that they had hired a contractor to fix the door.
However, on December 24, 2008 at midnight, Mr. Garcia eloped from the facility and disappeared. His body was found floating in a local canal two miles from the nursing home by a local resident at 9:00 a.m. A subsequent autopsy revealed that Mr. Garcia drawn.
The nursing home staff told the police that Mr. Garcia was seen at 1:00 a.m. in the morning sitting in a chair near the nurses’ station. However, a Fort Lauderdale Police Officer observed Mr. Garcia walking Eastbound on Federal Highway at 12:45 a.m. Because the officer had not been informed of a missing person, he did not stop Mr. Garcia at that time. This information demonstrated that Mr. Garcia left the facility much earlier than the nursing home claimed and that he was wandering the street for hours before the nursing home notified the police. The nursing home staff failed the family by failing to secure and provide Mr. Garcia with a secure living environment and in failing to properly notify police of the resident disappearance. A significant settlement was obtained on behalf of the family even though the facility itself had limited insurance coverage.