Healthcare News & Insights

Report: Understaffing led to children’s sexual abuse


Lax supervision and too few workers were the main drivers behind a series of sexual assaults at one Chicago psychiatric hospital, according to state officials. 

The incidents took place at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital. The report was released by the state Department of Children and Family Services, and conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

According to the report, since 2008, there were at least four incidents involving children being sexually abused by fellow patients at the hospital. The report, which generally praised the quality of care provided by the hospital’s senior nursing staff, said that children were at times put at risk due to inadequate staffing, inconsistent supervision and related errors. At times, investigators said one staff member would have to monitor more than20 children at once in a dayroom.

Among the examples of lax supervision leading to assaults cited in the report: An 11 year old boy was sodomized by two male patients who followed him into a bathroom which should have been locked and supervised. One of the two had been admitted with specific instructions to staffers to watch him and take “assault precautions.”

Lakeshore officials criticized the report, saying that it took a few isolated incidents and judged the entire hospital’s quality of care on a too-small sample. Hospital officials also pointed out that they cooperated with every investigation, and that in each of the alleged incidents, no criminal charges were brought.

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