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Charges expected for teen driver in fatal Oakham crash

OAKHAM — Police said Monday they plan to charge the driver of a car involved in a fatal crash early Sunday morning on Old Turnpike Road.

While Oakham Police Sgt. Kevin Tucker said officers cannot release the names of the driver or the victim who died in the accident because they are juveniles, Quabbin Regional School Superintendent Maureen Marshall identified the driver as Aaron Witkos, 17, of Oakham.

Jeremy Kauppila, 17, of Hubbardston died in the crash, Mrs. Marshall said Sunday. Both boys attended school at Quabbin.

Police said the driver will be charged in juvenile court but they declined to say what charges he will face. He was still hospitalized on Monday.

Police Chief Frederick Gehring said officers are looking into where the boys were before the accident and investigating whether there were other factors in the crash. A police log indicates that officers around 10 a.m. Sunday took statements from someone at 926 Old Turnpike Road, a short distance from the crash. Police had visited the residence around 7:15 a.m., as well, the log said.

It is too early in the investigation to say whether speed or alcohol were factors in the crash, police said. They said both teens were wearing seat belts.

Police believe the two had attended a formal Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps ball in Gardner earlier in the evening with other Quabbin students, the chief said.

Both are members of the ROTC program. Mr. Kauppila was also a member of the football team.

The initial call reporting the accident was made at 4:22 a.m. The caller told a dispatcher he could not stop for the accident. The first emergency personnel arrived nine minutes later and reported that two people were trapped inside a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix that had slammed into a tree.

Firefighters used hydraulic tools to free the teens and Mr. Witkos was flown to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center — University Campus in Worcester. Police said he is expected to survive.

Officer James Albano is headed the investigation, Chief Gehring said, adding that most of the department’s members are assisting. State police from the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, along with the Worcester district attorney’s office, are assisting.

Source: Telegram


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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6 days ago  ·  

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