Definition A popular term for a person, often with a mental disorder–e.g., dementia, who is admitted to one hospital after another, for a period of ≥ 4/years.
Comment Wandering may may have been more common in US Veterans Affairs hospitals, which traditionally offered free medical care and/or hospital admission for prolonged periods of time to any person who is a veteran of military service. While wandering has features overlapping those of factitious disorders, Munchausen syndrome, and drug seeking behaviours, it is considered to be a pathology a sui generis.
• Wandering patient So named if the wanderer has a treatable illness
• Habitually wandering patient So named if the behaviour lasts 5 + years
Reference Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging 2003; 11:33-39