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. Lukas Keapproth / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
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Since 1986, at least 297 personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed against Wisconsin nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

The Center commissioned Court Data Technologies, a Madison company that specializes in researching Wisconsin’s publicly available court records, to find civil cases that met defined parameters. The Center then analyzed the data.

Among the findings:

  • The largest number of cases, 16, were filed against Mount Carmel Health and Rehabilitation Center, now named Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Milwaukee. Woodland Health Care Center, now named Brookfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Care, ranked second; it was sued 11 times.
  • At least 167 of the cases (56 percent) were settled before trial. Other cases were dismissed, with no indication of whether a settlement was reached. Only seven cases are listed as going to trial.
    Of the cases that went to trial, the largest judgment awarded was $1.5 million.
  • Of the cases that settled for a known amount, the largest was $2.75 million. That concerned a resident at Lakeside Nursing and Rehabilitation in Chippewa Falls who sustained numerous life-threatening bedsores and lost 30 percent of his body weight, according to his attorney.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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