Alleged drunk driver rear-ends head of State Police

Shrewsbury – A woman allegedly drinking and driving picked the wrong car to rear-end. Inside the unmarked cruiser, the head of the Massachusetts State Police.

Not only was Donna Sclamo allegedly driving drunk, but her license was suspended.

Millions of drivers get behind the wheel of cars and trucks on the Massachusetts roads every single day.

What are the chances then, that one woman, suspected of driving while drunk, would rear end the leader of an anti-drunk driving crusade, the commander of the Massachusetts State Police herself, Colonel Marian McGovern.

It happened Monday just before noon, Col. McGovern was stopped at a red light on Rt. 20 at Grafton Street in Shrewsbury, when she was hit from behind.

Uninjured, she got out of her unmarked Ford Explorer, to check on the other driver who she then determined was under the influence.

Turns out this is 51 year old Donna Sclamo, of Worcester’s fifth OUI offense.

We went to Sclamo’s house in Worcester to try to speak with her, but didn’t make it to the door as we were met by one of her sons who told us to leave.

You may think this is a case of a driver crashing into the wrong person.

But that’s not how McGovern sees it.

Here’s a statement released by the Massachusetts State Police on her behalf.

“The Colonel is glad that if Ms. Sclamo was going to hit anyone, that she hit Cruiser 1, so that no private citizens were hurt and so the Massachusetts State Police could get a drunk driver off the road before she killed herself or someone else.”

And in this story, brimming with irony, it was just a few months ago that Col. McGovern stood in front of a mangled cruiser at state police headquarters in Framingham, after a series of OUI crashes in which state troopers were hit, one crash fatal.

She talked about the need for drivers to use caution in work zones, when state troopers are around.

Donna Sclamo posted a thousand dollars cash.

She is expected to be arraigned at Westborough District Court tomorrow.

The following statement was released on behalf of Colonel McGovern:

“Colonel McGovern is grateful that Ms. Sclamo was not seriously injured today. The Colonel is glad that if Ms. Sclamo was going to hit anyone, that she hit Cruiser 1, so that no private citizens were hurt and so the Massachusetts State Police could get a drunk driver off the road before she killed herself or someone else. The Colonel and the State Police hope Ms. Sclamo is able to get whatever help she needs, but also adamantly believe that she must be held accountable before the law and punished appropriately and strictly. The Colonel reminds all Massachusetts citizens of the grave threat posed by drinking and driving.”


Nursing Home Negligence

Falls in Nursing Homes

Litigators who work with cases involving long term care know how significant the issue of falls can be. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death by injury in adults over 65. Approximately half of the 1.6 million nursing home residents in the U.S. fall each year, and a report by the Office of the Inspector General found that about 10% of Medicare skilled nursing residents experience a fall resulting in significant injury; and, more than 1/3 of hospital falls result in injury. In the rehab setting, rates are often higher – for example, fall rates among stroke patients have been shown to be very high. Immobility and falls can lead to poor outcomes.

Fear of falling is defined as a geriatric syndrome. It not only occurs in older adults who have fallen, but in those with impaired mobility and is associated with decreased physical ability and depression. Care of older adults requires that clinicians be aware of the myriad of issues related to falls including knowledge of this syndrome, increased risk and interventions needed to prevent injury related to falls.

Just about every resident in a long term care setting, including assisted living and sub-acute rehab, is at risk for falling. Between medications, functional and medical issues and advancing age, older adults in most settings are prone to falling.

There are well established standards of care related to fall prevention; but, as I continue to review records related to issues like falls, I am amazed at how often these basic standards are not being practiced. The basics of a fall prevention program include assessment and ongoing reassessment of risk, ensuring a safe environment, medication review, providing therapy as needed, individualized interventions, and staff education.

Basic nursing practice includes assessment, planning (Care plan), putting interventions in place and then evaluating outcomes to determine if those interventions are appropriate and effective. Assessment includes completing fall risk assessments on admission and then as needed. Very often, the fall risk assessments completed by nurses in LTC are inaccurate. The tools utilized in long term care typically include these risk factors: history of falling, use of ambulatory aids, gait/balance issues, medications, secondary diagnoses (i.e. diabetes) and mental status. Care planning is the next step in nursing care - it is the standard of care that as the resident’s status changes, assessments and care plans must be updated, and often, are not. For example, with each fall, there should be updates, or if there is a new diagnosis, i.e. stroke, or worsening dementia, updated interventions should be put into place, with ongoing evaluation of effectiveness.

Care planning and interventions very often are generic and not individualized. For example, a toileting schedule that includes only after meals and before bedtime may not be appropriate. If a resident has issues with constipation or incontinence, this may lead to the need for more frequent toileting to prevent falls. The “make certain call bell is within reach” for residents with dementia is an example of a generic intervention. Older adults with dementia may not recognize a call bell or remember to use it. The debate about use of bed and chair alarms go on – they are a part of an individualized care plan, not a solution to preventing falls. Often, I see delays in putting interventions in place, i.e. with the resident who is incontinent NOT being put on a toileting plan immediately. The other common issue I see when reviewing records is the lack of updating care plans as the resident’s status changes – with every fall, with worsening dementia, physical decline, or new medical diagnosis (i.e. Parkinsonism).

Nurses reviewing records need to pay attention to the MDS, risk assessments, care plans and Interdisciplinary notes with attention to where the standard of care is not being met.
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