Probable cause found in infant abuse case of former Meriter Hospital nurse

During a preliminary hearing Wednesday, a Meriter doctor described injuries to infants that led to charges against 43-year-old Christopher Kaphaem.

Judge Stephen Ehlke found there was probable cause, and bound Kaphaem over for further proceedings.

In February, Kaphaem was suspended from Meriter when authorities first suspected his involvement with patient injuries.  Kaphaem’s state nursing license was also suspended indefinitely.

As reported earlier on WKOW, a criminal complaint describes a variety of injuries to infants in Meriter’s NICU between March 2017 and February, including a child identified as Infant 1.  “Fracture to his skull, a wrist fracture, and a left humerus fracture,” the complaint against Kaphaem states.

The complaint describes other injuries to babies to include significant swelling to limbs and wounds from the improper introduction of IVs.

The complaint states veteran nurse Karin Smylie observed one child who had been cared for during certain hours by Kaphaem to have bruises to the palm of the hand.

“Never in my 32 years working in NICU have I ever seen anything like that,” the complaint quotes Smylie.

In the complaint, nurses state Kaphaem at one time cared for an infant with dim light and the room door closed, and would often shun offers of help for care tasks requiring two people.

Kaphaem has been a nurse at Meriter for fourteen years.  He previously worked at UW Hospital.  A source with knowledge of his employment says he was fired.

Federal officials cited Meriter Hospital for inadequately responding to the patient injuries, with an “immediate jeopardy violation” of one of the sanctions.

Officials say Meriter satisfactorily corrected procedures and policies involved in the citations.

A Meriter spokesperson says 24/7 video monitoring has been added to the NICU and patient trends are more closely tracked by new tools.

For more go to WKOW:

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