Meriter Hospital May Lose Medicare Following NICU Injuries
Documented injuries to newborns in Meriter Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit range from bruising on arms and legs to a broken arm and a skull fracture.
A Madison hospital may lose its Medicare contract after a federal investigation determined not enough was done to protect patients after five newborns sustained injuries while at the hospital.
Back in February, officials at UnityPoint-Meriter Hospital and the Office of Caregiver Quality filed complaints with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) regarding allegations that a nurse may have intentionally injured or hurt babies staying in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
The injuries ranged from bruising on arms and legs to a broken arm and a skull fracture, according to investigators from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
CMS documents show interviews with nurses and physicians and a review of patient files found additional documented concerns regarding injuries to newborns in the NICU dating back to April of 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 Newborn Intensive Care Unit at risk for serious harm or injury,” reads a report.
Concerns began to surface on February 2 following unexplained bruising to a baby’s arm, reports CBS News. The following day, staff noticed unexplained bruising on the right arm and left wrist of another baby. The next day, staff also noticed bruising on the same baby’s face. A lump was also discovered on the baby’s head on February 7.
It wasn’t until February 8, after a CT scan determined the baby had skull and arm fractures, that the hospital called a child abuse expert. The Madison Police Department was made aware of the “unexplained injuries” on February 9 and its special victims unit began its own investigation.
“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,” CMS said in a statement.
A NICU nurse was suspended on February 8 and is alleged to be the employee who cared for the infants involved, according to Wisconsin State Journal.
Meriter submitted a plan of correction, which included a security officer assigned to the NICU entrance and cameras in all NICU rooms.
CMS accepted the hospital’s initial plan of correction but issued the contract termination notice after additional issues arose. Because the violation is “so serious that it constitutes an immediate threat to patient health and safety”, the agency will not make payment for patient services on or after May 24.
“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.”
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