Reporting Procedures for Statutorily
Reportable Deaths: DHS Responsibilities
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Reportable Death Review Purpose
Some of the most vulnerable citizens of the State of Wisconsin are served by a variety
of institutional, residential and community-based treatment programs overseen by the
Department of Health Services.
(exit DHS), Sections 48.60 (5), 50.035 (5),
50.04 (2t), 51.03 (2), and 51.64
establish the reporting requirements, enumerate the types of deaths to be reported and
authorize a Department investigation.
When there is reasonable cause to believe that
the death of a client of one of these programs may have been related to:
- the use of a
physical restraint or seclusion
- a prescribed psychotropic medication
- a suspected suicide
the Department has a responsibility to investigate the death. The
Division of Quality Assurance does the field investigation.
To fulfill this responsibility the Department does the following:
Investigates the death of a client of a Department licensed or certified program or
facility when there is reasonable cause to believe that the death was:
Determines if minimum standards were followed in the use of seclusion and/or restraints,
psychotropic medications, and the prevention of a suicide.
Takes appropriate action based on the findings of the death investigation which may
include, but not be limited to:
the provision of technical assistance to the
development of needed training
publication of special alerts
certification or licensing action.
Investigation by the Department
Wisconsin statutes require that the Department
investigate a death no later than 14 days after the date the death is reported to the
The Division of Quality Assurance conducts
reportable death field investigations for programs and facilities serving adults.
The Department of Children and Family Service, Bureau of Regulation and Licensing conducts these
investigations for Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth.
All reportable death
investigations are reviewed.
The Department has the authority and
responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation using whatever customary means and
techniques are, at the Health Services Specialists discretion, appropriate
and warranted to conduct a thorough investigation including, but not limited to all of the
- individual interviews with staff, clients and other persons
- a review of
treatment, medication and somatic treatment records
- a review of policies and procedures
of the program/facility
- inspection of any buildings and their contents.
Health Services Specialists have access under ss. 51.30 (4) (b), Stats. to all
treatment and medication records without the informed written consent of the client (or
guardian when applicable), and may request:
- a copy of any documentation from the
clients treatment and medication records
- the programs/facilitys
policies and procedures.
The Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) generates an annual report of selected
- the reportable death reports received each year
- any enforcement actions
taken by the DQA from their investigation of
For information about the annual report, contact:
Division of Quality Assurance
P. O. Box 2969
Madison, WI 53701-2969
Phone: (608) 261-0657
FAX: (608) 261-0655
January 13, 2014