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Court documents: Former nurse accused of abusing infants to enter guilty plea

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Christopher M. Kaphaem at his plea hearing in 2019.

MADISON (WKOW) — A former nurse accused of abusing infants in a Madison hospital neo-natal intensive care unit has agreed to plead guilty, according to a recent court filing.

Christopher M. Kaphaem, 43, a former nurse at Meriter, faces 19 felonies related to child abuse.

In a letter filed in the case today, Kaphaem’s attorney, Jonas Bednarek, notified the court of the plea.

“I write to inform the court that Mr. Kaphaem is prepared to accept responsibility and enter pleas of guilty to the charges contained in the information. He is prepared to enter the guilty plea at the next scheduled court appearance or at any hearing set by the court…..” Bednarek wrote.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne tells 27 News his office currently has no plea agreement with Kaphaem. It had offered a deal earlier this month, but that offer expired.

Ozanne says Bednarek’s letter indicates Kaphaem is willing to plead guilty to all the charges against him, but tells 27 News, “We have had no contact with Mr. Kaphaem’s defense team since the last court appearance.  At this time we continue to prepare for trial and will do so until Mr. Kaphaem enters guilty pleas.”

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.

During a court hearing, Dr. Barbara Knox, a child abuse pediatrician, described the injuries she examined on one of the babies.

“Bilateral forearm bruising and bilateral hand bruising,” said Knox.

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.

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.

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