Wisconsin nursing homes fail to report deaths, injuries

Charles Pietrowski’s mother, Mary, fell and broke her hip at Sunrise Care Center in Milwaukee in January 2010. The nursing home did not report the incident to the Wisconsin health department, as required by law, and the state did not investigate the injury for more than seven months, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism found. The state later determined that Pietrowski fell due to negligence.

Attorneys for families of residents say that facilities’ failure to report serious injuries or deaths related to abuse or neglect is not uncommon. Far more often, they say, the state health department only learns about a case of alleged neglect or abuse after a family member files a complaint. Advocates for health care providers stress that incidents of neglect and abuse are extremely rare, and can come to regulators’ attention in a variety of ways. Continue Reading

Center’s inquiries prompt state policy changes

A Wisconsin tort reform law passed two years ago made state inspection reports of nursing homes and other health care facilities inadmissible as evidence in civil and criminal cases. Proponents of the law say it lets providers discuss problems more openly, but critics argue it puts the elderly and vulnerable at risk. This woman, whose family asked that she not be identified, was a resident at a Sauk City nursing home.

In response to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s inquiries into an accident involving a 88-year-old woman at a Milwaukee nursing home, the state Department of Health Services launched an internal review, which concluded that state officials did not properly respond. As a result, the department says it has reviewed its intake procedures and made changes to ensure that complaints against nursing homes are triaged appropriately and investigated in a timely fashion. Continue Reading