One infant's skull had been fractured, another suffered a broken rib and arm. Inside the NICU at a Wisconsin hospital, something was terribly wrong.
In all, five babies were hurt and the nurse who cared for them has been suspended at UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital in Madison. A federal agency report said the hospital's Medicare funding was in jeopardy.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported the hospital did not respond to suspected abuse in the ward until last month, despite two similar cases in 2017 and another in January. The name of the suspended caregiver was not released.
The agency told Meriter in a Feb. 23 letter that the situation "is so serious that it constitutes an immediate threat to patient health safety," according to the Wisconsin State Journal, which obtained a copy of the report.
Hospital spokeswoman Jessika Kastern said the medical center is cooperating with authorities and has implemented new safety procedures, including a security guard in the NICU, surveillance cameras and reducing nurses' caseloads from three infants per caregiver to two.
The report said staff in the 42-bed unit noticed bruising on the arm of a newborn on Feb. 2. A doctor said it might have been caused by an IV or the baby clutching wires. The next day, staff noticed bruising on the arm and wrist of another infant. A doctor said it could have been cause by a blanket being wrapped too tightly.
By the following day, that baby had facial bruises. On Feb. 7, the infant had lump on its head. A CT scan conducted the next day showed the newborn's skull and arm were fractured.
The nurse was suspended that day.
The Madison Police Department is also investigating.