Trooper Transferred After Sexual Harassment Claims

BOSTON – It sounds like a familiar story in Massachusetts – a person of authority repeatedly gets into trouble. But rather than being fired, he’s transferred somewhere else to possibly become a problem to somebody else.

But in this case, we’re not talking about the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, we’re talking about the state police. The Boston Globe reports that a trooper accused of sexual harassment at least three times in the past decade is being moved to another barracks, not fired.

Trooper James Michael Vines was suspended for 30 days last month after a female restaurant worker at Logan Airport, where Vines was assigned, claims the trooper made lewd comments to her then stalked her for hours when she rebuffed his advances.

Another woman, a female toll collector, claims Vine walked into her booth and asked for a kiss.

Both those women work at the airport. They hoped to never see Vines again, but the trooper was scheduled to return to duty at Logan after his suspension. That apparently changed when the Globe started making inquiries and officials changed their minds.

The paper reports that Vines did admit to violating department rules and was disciplined, and is now being shipped out to another barracks.

One former victim told the paper, “It’s like the archdiocese, they keep moving him around.”

Massachusetts State Police spokesperson David Procopio released this statement to WBZ late Thursday afternoon: “The Massachusetts State Police sustained a complaint filed against Trooper James Vines and handed down appropriate discipline. We took further action by transferring him from Logan Airport and issuing orders mandating that he stay away from the complainant, as well as from a complainant from a previous incident. The State Police acted thusly because of our commitment to the integrity of the department and our responsibilities to the complainants.”


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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7 days ago  ·  

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