The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) oversees a variety of programs and facilities that serve some of our most vulnerable citizens. In some instances, DHS must be notified if a person dies in one of these settings.
- The use of a physical restraint or seclusion.
- A prescribed psychotropic medication.
- A suspected suicide.
DHS has the following responsibilities after the death is reported.
Investigate the reportable death
DHS has a responsibility to investigate a reportable death that occurs in a licensed or certified program or facility no later than 14 days after the date the death is reported.
DHS's Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) conducts the investigation to determine if minimum standards were followed in the use of restraints and/or seclusion, psychotropic medications, and the prevention of a suicide.
Take appropriate action
DQA takes appropriate action based on the findings of the death investigation. Actions may include, but aren't limited to:
- Provision of technical assistance to the care/treatment providers.
- Development of needed training.
- Publication of special alerts and bulletins.
- Certification or licensing action.
Conduct a thorough investigation
DHS has the authority and responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation using any customary means and techniques necessary. This includes, but isn't limited to:
- 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 or facility.
- Inspection of any buildings and their contents.
Access all necessary records
DQA investigators and surveyors have access under Wis. Stat. § 51.30(4)(b) to all treatment and medication records without informed written consent. DQA may request:
- A copy of any documentation from the client's treatment and medication records.
- The policies and procedures of the program or facility.