A shocking series of incidents are now being reported at one of Milwaukee‘s largest hospitals. Since April 2017, babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) have been discovered with bruising and in some cases broken bones.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a newborn baby in the NICU at UnityPoint Health-Meriter was discovered with significant bruising that was noted by a hospital official. Since that time, four more babies were injured, with two having fractures in the skull, rib, and arm. These injuries were initially blamed on blankets being too tight or a piece of equipment such as an IV stand being pulled over. At some point, officials at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) were alerted and an investigation was launched this year.
It was found that in all the cases of injured babies in the NICU one particular nurse was in charge of the babies. According to the hospital, that nurse was suspended and the police were called after a series of babies were found with injuries on her shift. In an inspection report by CMS, it was stated that “The hospital failed to develop and implement an effective policy to prevent, screen, identify, train, protect, thoroughly investigate, report, and respond to any allegations of suspected abuse related to injuries of unknown origin.”
In addition, acting CMS Branch Manager Maria Vergel De Dios wrote in a recent letter to the hospital that the violations were so serious “that it constitutes an immediate threat to patient health safety.” De Dios went on to issue the hospital an “immediate jeopardy” notification, which means the hospital’s Medicare contract could be terminated if the problem is not corrected.
As a result, the hospital has placed security guards outside the NICU and additional cameras were placed in patients’ rooms. Supervisors will now randomly check the unit and two people must be present for all patient care.