Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October is Driver Safety Month

Dr. Emmy Betz, sent me a note recently saying, “The Emergency Department sees traffic accident victims all the time and it’s frustrating. What happens when patients leave is important to us. The ED staff wants to work with the larger BID team including social workers, case managers and primary care doctors to provide help for those who need it.” So, she and Lissa Kapust decided to join forces. Lissa is a social worker in our behavioral neurology group and is well known for the Drive Wise program at BIDMC, which offers evaluations of drivers who have experienced neurological, psychological or physical impairments.

Noting that 417 people were killed in traffic accidents in Massachusetts in 2007, BIDMC’s Emergency Department was prompted to designate the month of October as Driver Safety Month. “October is timely because the state legislature is debating two major bills. One is about having the RMV test older drivers, which is the first time it has grappled with mandatory testing of drivers,” Lissa notes. “The second bill pushes health care providers to report patients with cognitive problems. There is a new focus in our state on driver safety.”

Emmy and Lissa have partnered to host a “Crash Course in Driver Safety,” an open house and lunch for our staff on Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Speakers from the medical center and external organizations like the RMV will make presentations on a variety of topics from elderly drivers to impaired motorists to seatbelts for children.

By the way, there is some evidence that crash rates go up on election day because voters are in a rush, distracted, and driving in unfamiliar places. Also, I have been told that the Monday after clocks fall back an hour as we go from daylight time to standard time is known as a dangerous travel day. So, this initiative is seems timely on many fronts.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Mr. Levy, you are correct. I work at the Goddard House Assisted Living Facility in Brookline and hear these stories about local older people involved in accidents all of the time. I wish there were ways (like mandatory driving tests after a certain age) to test for cognitive, auditory and visual impairment. Folks with dementia are still driving and it is scary to hear of driving related accidents. I think it is awesome that BIDMC is helping to educate its staff to provide help in these issues. When an elderly person goes to the ED it should be a red flag to families that something needs to be done about the health and well being/safety of their family member.
Thank you for posting on this topic.

Anonymous said...

This time I'll try to be more careful with spelling. I developed an unsteady leg condition. Was advised to use a cane.

Discovered that my foot to pedal was unsteady too - toned my driving down a little. Maybe patient has to be asked about their driving.

phil beron said...

Very poignant and important post.
I came across your blog today and find it fascinating on several levels.

I'm a radiation oncologist and deal with people in S. California who have had brain tumors, surgery, seizures etc..

The hardest news I give them is not to drive. This usually drives them to tears or anger. And over half ignore the advice. So we have people out there driving around who are cognitively impaired, seizure risks, parially blind, and on several medications.

We need much tougher laws dealing with this issue.

phil beron

Anonymous said...

I like this blog and definitely like the fact that someone is bringing up safety issues. I would however like to see a Blog that includes nothing but safety and security issues at Hospitals. The HIPPA requirements, security, abulance safety etc. are all major issues. I am even thinking of creating a special page on www.lacrimeprevention.oom (my website) to discuss such issues. Great job creating a wortwhile Blog and a worthwhile post. =)

Anonymous said...

I agree. A lot needs to be done to increase driving safety. Have you guys watched the reality based emergency room shows on cable? I am not sure what channel they were on but, regardless, those shows hit home hard. I saw a girl that was a pretty teenage cheerleader get her face horribly disfigured and cut up because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt and slammed her head into the windshield.
Another case of a truck driver that had both legs amputated as a result of a car crash. Crashes due to not using headlights, drinking and driving and more. It was just crazy and it all happened in one night - yes there were a few gunshot victims too, but most of the bad stuff (deaths, bad disfigurements, etc...) were from car accidents.