Unexplained injuries at Wisconsin hospital's NICU range from bruises to skull fracture, CMS investigation reveals

A CMS investigation found Madison, Wis.-based UnityPoint Health-Meriter did not make the necessary efforts to protect newborns from suspected abuse at its neonatal intensive care unit, reports WISC-TV News 3.

Patients at the hospital's NICU experienced various unexplained injuries in February, ranging from bruising on limbs to a fractured arm and skull, according to CMS investigators. NICU staff first found bruising on a baby Feb. 2, before discovering bruising on a second baby the next day. The hospital did not contact a child abuse expert until Feb. 8, when staff discovered the second baby also had a skull and arm fracture. The hospital also suspended a nurse who was allegedly involved in the incidents Feb. 8 and notified police of the injuries Feb. 9.

While these injuries surfaced in February, CMS concluded patients at UnityPoint-Meriter's NICU were in "immediate jeopardy" last year, with initial concerns about newborn injuries dating back to April 2017.

"The immediate jeopardy began on April 12, 2017 when the facility failed to protect and thoroughly investigate the first report of an injury of unknown origin for patient #4, placing all patients in the [NICU] at risk for serious harm or injury," CMS said in the document obtained by WISC-TV News 3.

CMS found UnityPoint-Meriter did not have a "policy or process that guided the staff or physicians how to report abuse or neglect," the agency said in a statement cited by WISC-TV News 3. CMS also determined the hospital was not in compliance with a requirement to protect and promote patients' rights, according to the report.

The agency originally accepted UnityPoint-Meriter's corrective plan, which included adding a security guard and cameras in the NICU, but issued the hospital a Medicare contract termination notice after additional issues came to light last month. UnityPoint-Meriter must now submit a new corrective plan. The hospital will lose its Medicare funding May 24 if it does not resolve the patient safety issues.

"We have successfully worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to address their most immediate concerns, and we continue to work on a longer term corrective action plan for their review," Jessika Kasten, a spokeswoman for UnityPoint Health-Meriter, told WISC-TV News 3. "We have implemented enhanced safety measures, and our commitment to provide safe care to our patients and families has never been stronger."

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:

Joint Commission, NQF honor 3 Eisenberg patient safety, quality award winners
Second US fertility clinic experiences freezer malfunction resulting in damage to eggs, embryos
Salmonella outbreak linked to chicken salad up to 170 cases: 4 things to know

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars