Audit Finds 80 Children Born with a Physical Dependence on an Addictive Drug at UMass Memorial Medical Center Not Properly Reported to the State

Similar Problem found at Lowell General Hospital in Previous Audit
Boston, MA—Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the UMass Memorial Medical Center’s (UMMMC) compliance with mandatory reporting requirements when children are born with a physical dependence on an addictive drug, known as substance-exposed newborns. The audit found that 80 of the 456 substance-exposed births were not properly reported to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) within required timeframes, and in one of those cases, the incident was never reported. As a result of the audit, Bump has called for the hospital to improve its reporting and filing of these incidents.
“These newborns are among the most vulnerable residents in our state. Their long-term health and safety is dependent on making sure the Department of Children and Families is aware of the circumstances so that the agency can work with the hospital and the family to develop appropriate short and long-term plans for the baby’s wellbeing,” Bump said. “It is critical that UMass Memorial Medical Center improve its processes to ensure that all substance-exposed newborns are reported to the state”
Under state law, it is required that hospital personnel engaged in examination, care or treatment of newborn babies report orally to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) immediately after the birth of a child suffering either physical and/or emotional injury resulting from substance. Furthermore, they must file a written report within 48 hours of oral communication.
Last month, an audit from Bump’s office found similar reporting deficiencies at Lowell General Hospital.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), substance-exposed newborns are at risk of a variety of medical conditions and developmental disabilities, as well as abuse and neglect.
As a result of the audit, UMMMC indicated it will improve its protocols to ensure reports are filed in accordance with state law.
The UMass Memorial Medical Center was founded in 1871 and provides medical services at three campuses (Memorial, University, and Hahnemann) in Worcester and three affiliated hospitals in central Massachusetts. UMMMC operates 65 maternity beds and 69 bassinets and oversaw 10,436 live births during our audit period.
The audit was conducted as part of Bump’s effort to improve coordination and collaboration in the state’s child-welfare programs.
The audit of the UMass Memorial Medical Center is attached.
 

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