On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health announced it was imposing $850,000 in fines on 14 hospitals for medical errors that caused or were likely to cause serious patient injury or death, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports (Gorman, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/8).
A 2007 law requires hospitals to report to DPH errors that could cause serious injury or patient death, as well as failures to comply with state licensing rules, according to Pam Dickfoss, acting deputy director of the department's Center for Health Care Quality (Benjamin, Fresno Bee, 12/8).
A hospital is fined $50,000 for a first offense, $75,000 for a second offense and $100,000 for third and subsequent violations (Hayden, Santa Barbara Independent, 12/8). Incidents that occurred prior to 2009 carry a fine of $25,000 ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/8).
The funds raised from the fines will be used to improve safety and quality of care at hospitals (Perkes, Orange County Register, 12/8).
Details of the Fines
The 14 hospitals involved are:
- Fresno Surgical Hospital, which was fined $50,000 for leaving gauze inside a patient after a hysterectomy (Fresno Bee, 12/8);
- Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, which was fined $50,000 for giving a patient an overdose of an antibiotic, causing kidney failure and the need for dialysis ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/8);
- Kaiser Foundation Hospital-South San Francisco, which was fined $50,000 for giving thousands of patients vaccines and medications that were not properly refrigerated over a 32-month period (Mieszkowski, Bay Citizen, 12/8);
- Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, which was fined $25,000 for failing to remove a sponge from an abdominal surgery patient ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/8);
- Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, which was fined $50,000 for failing to safely administer medication to an infant (Bay Citizen, 12/8);
- Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, which was fined $100,000 for having to conduct a second surgery on a patient to remove a metal screw cap left in her body during the first surgery (Orange County Register, 12/8);
- San Francisco General Hospital, which was fined $50,000 for performing a partial mastectomy on a patient who was supposed to receive a total mastectomy (Bay Citizen, 12/8);
- Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, which was fined $50,000 following the 2009 abduction of an infant by a person posing as a nurse (Santa Barbara Independent, 12/8);
- Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, which was fined $100,000 for leaving a one-inch pin inside a patient's neck during spinal surgery (Lavelle, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/8);
- St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, which was fined $75,000 because a patient died after a nurse in training administered an overdose of morphine (Orange County Register, 12/8);
- Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, which was fined $50,000 for leaving a surgical sponge in a woman's abdomen after a caesarean section (Bay Citizen, 12/8);
- Torrance Memorial Medical Center, which was fined $75,000 for leaving a foreign object inside a patient following surgery (Green, Torrance Daily Breeze, 12/8);
- UCSF Medical Center, which was fined $75,000 because a surgeon started operating on a patient's eye and then realized the procedure was for the other eye (Bay Citizen, 12/8); and
- Ventura County Medical Center, which was fined $50,000 for leaving a small surgical towel inside a patient's abdomen after surgery (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 12/8).