MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Five infants suffered serious injuries including a fractured skull, rib and arm in the newborn unit of a Wisconsin hospital and the nurse who cared for them has been suspended, a federal agency said in a report after it inspected the hospital

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that UnityPoint Health-Meriter hospital in Madison didn't respond to the suspected abuse until early last month, when staff noticed two babies with bruises. An internal investigation revealed two similar cases last year and one from January. The identity of the suspended nurse has not been released.

Quoting a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report, the newspaper said the federal agency was so concerned about the hospital's response that it threatened to cancel its Medicare contract with Meriter.

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."


Meriter spokeswoman Jessika Kasten said the hospital is cooperating with authorities and has implemented new safety measures.

According to the inspection report, staff in the 42-bed unit noticed bruising on the arm of an infant on Feb. 2. A doctor thought it might be from the baby clutching wires or an IV device. The next day, staff noticed bruising on the arm and wrist of another baby. A doctor thought it might be from a tightly wrapped blanket.

On Feb 4, staff saw bruising on the second baby's face and three days after that they discovered a lump on the baby's head. A CT scan on Feb. 8 showed the baby had skull and arm fractures. The nurse was suspended.

The Madison Police Department is investigating.

Meriter told the federal agency that is has assigned a security guard to the newborn unit and is putting cameras in all rooms. Each nurse will now care for two patients instead of three in the unit, which handles babies in intensive care.


This story has been corrected to show that the Meriter spokeswoman's last name is Kasten, not Kastern.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,