Patients absconding – eskapo.

Have you ever really encountered the term abscond? Oh well, it’s basically the term used for patient who went on AWOL or went on HAMA or eloped or simply escaped and went out of the hospital. This crisis is uncommon in the states that’s why maybe it was never discussed probably when we were in the nursing school.

Within the last 3 months, I had 2 patients who absconded from the ward with 2 different cases and reasons.

Absconder # 1 – Who we call “Tatay” during his stay. He was the typical fatherly type of a patient. He wanted to visit Quiapo church as his devotion and promise to the Black Nazarene. Since his condition would not permit him to do so he did not dare to ask permission from the nurses. (I bet he knew we would never allow him to). So he asked his son to help him sneak out. He went out without permission. Took off and rode their car and off they went to Quiapo. That was a friday morning.

Absconder # 2 – Ang balikbayan. This patient just came back from a special mission for a cause in an african country. He was known to have late stage carcinoma and minimal options for treatment. Patient got depressed. While his wife was away to get some medicines from the Pharmacy he went to the toilet, pulled his IV line and off he went out. He walked out of the ward.

When do we use the term abscond? I too got confused. Is a patient an absconder by the time he went out the hospital for any reason at all? Or should there be a 24-hour lee way before tagging patient as absconded?

Hmmm. Not really a typical situation in the Philippines. But it is a challege for Nurses! In the UK, I think they have protocols to follow. This is a common thing with the brits I think.

Ok so Absconder # 2 came back 23 hours after he was gone missing. He said he was in a proper state if mind now and needed the time to think. He reported that he walked around the city for almost whole day.

Absconder # 1 had a cardiac arrest before he reached the Church. Was rushed to the nearest hospital, intubated and went on a coma.

Yes! Surprising and should be taken seriously. Security measures and protocols are important. It should be implemented or revised.

Not all patients leave the hospital to escape medical bills. There are other reasons too. There are reasons why patients abscond.



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