California Fines 14 Hospitals for Endangering Patients' Health

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On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health fined 14 California hospitals a total of $825,000 for violations that jeopardized the health and safety of patients, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/31).

Details of Violations

The violations led to five deaths and repeat surgeries for seven patients, according to HealthLeaders Media (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 8/31).

Some of the violations reported by DPH include:

  • Leaving a surgical sponge inside of a patient (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 8/30);
  • Failing to ensure that an insulin pump was able to self-administer medication; and
  • Improperly removing stitches that held a patient's tracheostomy tube (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/31).

Details of Fines

The fines levied by DPH include:

  • $25,000 for Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center;
  • $25,000 for Simi Valley Hospital & Health Care Services;
  • $50,000 for John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio;
  • $50,000 for Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Los Angeles;
  • $50,000 for Menlo Park Surgical Hospital;
  • $50,000 for Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno;
  • $50,000 for Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco;
  • $50,000 for Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto;
  • $75,000 for California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles County;
  • $75,000 for Kaiser Foundation Hospital in South San Francisco;
  • $75,000 for University of California Irvine Medical Center in Orange;
  • $100,000 for Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco;
  • $100,000 for St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton; and
  • $100,000 for St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco (DPH release, 8/31).
Calvin Pang
This is the only way to keep hospital honest. Patients often are not aware of the grave situation and may not have means to seek remedy.
David Dickinson
Patricia - Of course I know what the system is. I work within it. I have fundamental differences with the status quo. You say "the State is responsible for...etc." like it's some law of nature. The State MADE itself responsible for whatever and GAVE itself the right to impose these massive fines. You say, "There are always punishments when standards of care are not met." That's because the government DECIDED to impose punishments. Laws and regulations passed by the government are not always appropriate. Otherwise the government, having passed millions of laws already, should be pretty much out of business by now. Laws and regulations are being revoked, modified and replaced all the time. I reiterate that taking money out of an already financially strained healthcare system is damaging, and if the government was so smart, they'd find another way to correct safety lapses. But they will never do that because the fines are a big source of revenue.
Patricia Morris-Gooding
David and Alex I guess that you two either don't know or don't care to know that the State is responsible for licensing the hospitals and is to hold said hospitals accountable for the safety of the patients in their care. There are always punishments when the standards of care are not met.
Alex Valencia
@David D: Good point
David Dickinson
I've never understood the purpose of these massive fines against hospitals. Clinical neglect makes them liable to be sued by the injured party and that's fair. But in my opinion the abilty of the state to fine them in addition to the civil liability is just another source of income for the state. Unfortunately in these cases it takes money out of healthcare where it would be better used than being wasted by a state that doesn't know even the basics of money management.

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