Care centers may see more regulations for reporting injuries

By LAURA BOHANNON

Capital News Service

LANSING — Day care centers, adult care centers and foster homes would have to meet higher standards for reporting injuries on an online database, under bills introduced in the state House.

Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, who sponsored the bills, said the increased record-keeping will make it easier for people to evaluate centers when choosing one.

Although those institutions already face state reporting requirements, Lucido said his bills would ensure that patterns of more minor incidents would not be overlooked.

Lucido said, “I don’t think a registry or database is so wrong when dealing with loved ones, people we’re trying to protect.”

There are “good bruises and bad bruises,” Lucido said. If a child is playing outside, falls down and scrapes a leg, an accident report would go online saying what happened. If a child falls down and scrapes their leg and no one sees it, that could be a problem for some parents.

“Then there’s the bad (bruises),” he said. “How’d this happen, who wasn’t watching, when weren’t they watching? Explain yourself.”

Sheri Zimmerman, the Bay City Public School District early childhood facilitator, said the proposals don’t seem to make many significant changes to the injury reporting procedures already in place.

Zimmerman said currently, if someone wanted to access accident reports, they would need to search for the care center they’d like the information on the state website.

But the legislation has raised concerns that reporting every minor scrape or bruise could tie up child care workers.

“I don’t want it to be something like, ‘Johnny scratched his arm playing with a stick,’ and I’ve got to write that up and send it in,” said Mary Jo Birgy, owner of Buds & Blooms Group Daycare in Traverse City. “That’s just too much time, and we’re not around a computer, you know. We’re outside playing. Or we’re going for a walk and someone tripped and fell and scraped their knee, I’m not going to run back home and put that in.

“We can’t employ somebody just to do paperwork,” she said.

Birgy said an injury that required a doctor or hospital visit — like a broken arm – must be put in a database under current state requirements.

“I’m not opposed to giving parents as much information as possible,” Birgy said, but reporting every little bump and bruise seems like too much. “I would say yes to something major and no to something minor.”

Birgy also said she has never had an incident that required a visit to the doctor or hospital in 26 years of running the group daycare.

Lucido argues that it’s beneficial for care centers to have information available that could help people understand which incidents are accidents and which, if any, are, are instances of abuse or neglect. Repeated injuries or children in a day care center going home with sickness, bruising and rashes should be looked into.

If the same problem happens to “three or four babies, I think it’s time to understand it,” Lucido said. “Because it might not be a state write-up, but it’s sure questionable of what’s going on in there. And that is not reported right now.”

The day care reporting bill would allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to ensure that homes for foster youth are held accountable for any injuries as well, while another bill focuses on senior living and assisted living centers.

The bill would require day care centers to report these injuries to the department o, which would establish and maintain public databases.

Lucido’s concerns about reporting child care accidents extend to care for seniors. If a wheelchair-bound senior is being escorted somewhere and falls out of the wheelchair, that is another incident loved ones as well as potential clients should know about.

In a case where someone didn’t pay attention and inadvertently caused an injury, Lucido said that should be put on a database.

Zimmerman said injuries that require a visit to the doctor or the hospital are what’s required to be reported now.

The procedure to follow for an injury is to first ensure the child is all right, then contact the center’s licensing consultant and verbally report what happened, then send in a report within 24 hours she said.

The licensing consultant could choose to investigate the center, call the injured child’s parents or speak with the center about implementing new best practices for preventable injuries.