Federal Investigation: Madison hospital failed to act after infant abuse first reported

Posted at 3:51 PM, Mar 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-08 16:57:44-05

UnityPoint Health-Meriter hospital is accused of failing to act when reports of infant abuse in the NICU were first reported, a federal investigation has found. 

Our sister station in Madison, WISC-TV, reports that the hospital is facing termination of payments for services after the Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found “immediate jeopardy” for patients. 

"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 Newborn Intensive Care Unit at risk for serious harm or injury," said CMS in the document. 

The report states that injuries were found on five infants. The injuries reported ranged from bruises to arm, leg and skull fractures. 

The investigation found that concerns started on Feb. 2 with unexplained bruising. Those concerns continued during the week and a child abuse expert wasn’t called until Feb. 8, six days after the first report. Madison police say they were not notified until Feb. 9. 

Additional concerns from doctors and nurses dated back to April of last year, with one mother reporting bruises on her child. 

"Interview with Director of Performance B on February 16, 2018 at 2:12 p.m. stated there was no policy or process that guided the staff or physicians how to report abuse or neglect," CSM said in a statement. 

One employee was suspended on Feb. 8 and security was increased after the police were notified. 

CMS determined Meriter was out of compliance with a requirement to protect patients’ rights. The agency told WISC-TV that they accepted a plan of correction from Meriter, but the CMS issued a termination notice after more concerns were brought to life. 

"During the course of the recent survey other levels of non-compliance were discovered," said CMS spokesperson Elizabeth Schinderle. "As a result, CMS finalized the full survey report and issued it to the facility yesterday, March 7. They now have the opportunity to submit another plan of correction (POC) which CMS will then review. If that POC is found to be acceptable, the next step in the process would be an unannounced, on-site survey."

Because of the “immediate threat to patient health and safety,” the Medicare program will not make payments on or after May 24.