Report finds U.S. hospital failed to protect infants from abuse

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

One infant's skull had been fractured, another suffered a broken rib and arm. 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. A federal agency report said the hospital's Medicare funding was in jeopardy.

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.

Documents show the hospital did not take action over the suspected abuse until last month when two babies were found with bruises.

The report said staff in the 42-bed unit noticed bruising on the arm of a newborn on February 2.

A report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services says "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". A nurse in the facility reported bruising on one of the babies, prompting questions about other injured infants.

As a result, the hospital has placed security guards outside the NICU and additional cameras were placed in patients' rooms. Each nurse will now care for two patients instead of three in the unit, which handles babies in intensive care. 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.

Meriter spokeswoman Jessika Kasten said the hospital is cooperating with authorities and has implemented new safety measures. The next day, staff noticed bruising on the arm and wrist of another infant.

On February 2, a nurse found bruising on an infant's arm but a doctor suggested that the child may have clutched the wires of an IV device. A doctor thought it might be from a tightly wrapped blanket. The hospital suspended the nurse.

Meriter notified parents of the investigation, leading to a fifth case of a baby who had bruising on the lower extremities in January, initially thought to be related to the birth.

The hospital didn't file internal reports about the two babies found bruised on February 2 and 3 until six days later, and some key staff were out early the next week, the inspection report said.

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