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Absconding

What is absconding? 

Absconding refers to the departure of patients from hospital wards without permission. The definition of absconding can vary depending on the length of time required for an absence to be considered absconding, and on the method of departure (e.g. leaving a locked ward, leaving the hospital grounds, or failing to return from day leave). Absconding status is influenced by the patient’s admission, whether it be voluntary, involuntary, or legally detained. There are significant implications of absconding for patients, carers and family members.

What is the evidence for absconding?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests inpatients who abscond are often young men in the first three weeks following admission. Absconding may occur in up to 34% of admissions, and up to 80% of absconders return within 24 hours. A large proportion of absconders indicate intent to leave, and most commonly abscond directly from the ward. There is insufficient evidence regarding interventions for preventing absconding.

 

March 2016

Page last updated: 0:14  19 August 2017

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