Police seek driver in fatal Lowell hit-and-run

LOWELL — An unidentified male pedestrian was killed late Wednesday night when he was struck while crossing Westford Street by a car that sped away at a high rate of speed with much of its windshield smashed out, according to a witness.

Police were called to the area in front of 585 Westford St., near Marlborough Street, at 10:51 p.m., when they received multiple 911 calls reporting a pedestrian was struck and still down in the street.

The first officers to arrive at the scene quickly reported that the incident was a hit-and-run, asked that Trinity EMS to hurry to the scene, and broadcast the license plate of a car witnesses saw leaving the area.

Police were searching for that car, a blue Volkswagen hatchback with Massachusetts license plate 537TY6, almost immediately after the crash occurred. Police have already identified who owns the car via the car’s registration.

A 19-year-old Lowell woman, who asked that her name be withheld, said she was walking home from work on Westford Street when she heard the sound of a speeding car and looked since it made her nervous.

“I saw this car just speed off with its front end totally smashed,” she said. “It was totally smashed. You could tell it just hit someone.”

That woman said much of the car’s windshield was destroyed, though she was unable to make out the make or model of the car on her own.

She feared the smashed windshield meant the car had just struck someone, but didn’t realize she was right until she walked a bit farther and came upon the scene of the crash.

“When I walked by I saw the body on the ground and I was like, ‘oh my God, that really did happen,'” she said.

Police could not immediately comment.

The Lowell Police Traffic Unit will reconstruct the crash, so Westford Street was expected to be closed between Marlborough and Belmont streets until early Thursday morning.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477).

Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Source: Lowell Sun

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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