Massachusetts State Police to flood roads with extra patrols

Two more sobriety checkpoints planned for this week

TAUNTON – Massachusetts State Police will deploy saturation patrols – extra patrols flooding a specific geographic area – and two more sobriety checkpoints on separate nights this week. The extra deployments will supplement regular patrols that State Police roll around the clock on three daily shifts.

Targeted enforcement operations are deployed on many nights throughout the year; nonetheless, the upcoming operations come on the heels of a tragic weekend on Massachusetts roads. State Police responded to numerous crashes that caused fatal or serious injuries with different suspected contributing factors, including impairment, failure to wear a seatbelt, and wrong-way operation.

“Any single fatality on our roads is one too many, but the fact that we responded to several fatalities this weekend is profoundly sad,” said Colonel Marian J. McGovern, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “Our thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones, and our determination to interdict impaired, aggressive and reckless drivers is unwavering.”

On the night of Thursday, Dec. 16, State Police will roll approximately 15 additional patrols in the greater Worcester area, located within Troop C. The patrols will be on alert for impaired, aggressive and distracted drivers. The next night, Friday, Dec. 17, State Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint in Suffolk County in Troop H. On Saturday, Dec. 18, the sobriety checkpoint will be held in Essex County in Troop A.

The saturation patrols and the checkpoints run from the late night into the early morning of the next day. The extra patrols and checkpoints are funded by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grants administered through the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

In all, NHTSA grants will fund a total of 328 State Police saturation patrols during an upcoming three-week “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest” enforcement campaign. The extra patrols on the road during that campaign, which will run from Dec. 16 through Jan. 2, will target impaired and reckless drivers.

So far this year, Massachusetts State Police have made 4,314 arrests for operating under the influence. That number includes arrests made at sobriety checkpoints and by saturation patrols, as well as arrests made by regular patrols out of the barracks.

The State Police deployed two sobriety checkpoints this past weekend. On the night of Friday, Dec. 10 into the next morning, state troopers, with the assistance of local police, arrested 14 impaired drivers at a checkpoint in Lowell. Troopers also made one other misdemeanor arrest and cited 96 drivers for various motor vehicle infractions. The following night, Dec. 11, into the next morning, state troopers and local police arrested seven impaired drivers at a checkpoint in North Attleboro. Police charged four other people with misdemeanor offenses and wrote 68 motor vehicle citations.

State Police have deployed 81 sobriety checkpoints thus far this year, and 10 additional saturation patrol events.

This past weekend, State Police field troopers and specialty units responded to numerous serious crashes, including fatal crashes in Walpole, Longmeadow, Fall River, Revere, Millis and Andover.

The Andover crash killed Cynthia Ray, 30, of Bradford, who was struck yesterday afternoon by an impaired driver as she was walking to her car outside the State Police Barracks on Route 125. State Police assigned to the Andover Barracks apprehended ROBERT BRYANT, 50, of Bradford, and charged him with motor vehicle homicide, operating under the influence of liquor, and related charges.

In Millis, the State Police Underwater Recovery Team was called yesterday afternoon to the Charles River, where a submerged pickup truck was found near the Dover Road bridge. State Police divers recovered the body of the driver. Evidence suggests he had driven into the river several hours earlier.

On Saturday, troopers responded to Route 91 in Longmeadow, where a northbound driver entered the highway’s southbound side. The resulting two-car head-on crash killed the 29-year-old Connecticut woman who was going the wrong way and the 63-year-old Springfield man who was driving the car she hit. Also Saturday, a 20-year-old Wilmington woman was killed on Route 95 in Walpole when she lost control of her car, rolled over, and was ejected. Evidence suggests she was not wearing a seatbelt. Another rollover ejection on Saturday, this one on Route 24 in Fall River, killed a 16-year-old Westport boy. Witnesses to that crash told State Police the road was icy, but the definitive cause of that crash remains the subject of an ongoing investigation, as do the cause of the Walpole crash and the reason why the Longmeadow driver entered the wrong side of the highway.

Another crash with an ejection occurred Saturday on Route 24 in Brockton. The driver, an adult woman, was seriously injured, as were two children in the car. Also Saturday, the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section responded to a crash that took the life of a pedestrian on Route 60 in Revere, and a crash that caused serious injuries to a teenaged pedestrian in East Longmeadow.

Colonel McGovern warned motorists not to drive after drinking. “The holiday season provides numerous opportunities to consume alcohol,” she said. “We urge motorists not to get behind a wheel if they have been drinking. Be forewarned that we will be out in enhanced numbers looking for any signs of impairment or erratic operation.”

Colonel McGovern also urged drivers and passengers alike to wear seatbelts, and reminded operators that any behaviors that can cause a distraction, including texting, put the offending driver and surrounding motorists in danger.

“The act of driving should not be a secondary activity to other things you want to do in the car,” she said.


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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