10 Hospitals Fined for Sometimes-Deadly Lapses

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The state Department of Public Health fined 10 California hospitals for safety violations that may have caused serious injury or death and included the removal of the wrong kidney during an operation.

Fines ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 were meted out to medical centers in eight counties: Los Angeles, San Diego, Alameda, Marin, Orange, Sacramento, Stanislaus and San Bernardino. Three facilities were in Los Angeles County.

The incidents included:

Alan Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland—A 66-year-old female cancer patient died after being given a nutritional supplement through her intravenous tube meant for other drugs, rather than through a stomach tube. $50,000

Barlow Respiratory Hospital—A patient admitted for respiratory failure died after staff failed to notify the physician about abnormal heart rhythms. $50,000

Hollywood Presbyterian—A 72-year-old female stroke patient with a history of Parkinson’s was admitted. It was noted she failed the test for being able to swallow or cough. She failed a few more swallow tests along the treatment route until suddenly daily records indicated she had a fine meal, a nice appetite and nary a cough. That was a mistake. Her condition deteriorated. $50,000

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center—A colon-cancer patient had to undergo a second surgery to remove a surgical sponge left during the first one. $50,000

Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego—The surgical area for a 33-year-old male patient was not marked prior to an operation, and the doctor then made an “unnecessary surgical incision” in the groin area. The surgeon began to cut near the patient’s right testicle before realizing he should be cutting on the left. He quickly discovered his mistake, closed the gash and finished the job. Afterward, the surgical team failed to perform the required “Time Out,” whereby they must “pause and focus their attention to verify the correct patient, the correct procedure and the correct side/site is initialed.” $75,000

St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton—A patient with cancer of the right kidney inadvertently had his left kidney removed. It was the medical center’s fifth administrative penalty. $100,000

Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville, Marin General Hospital, Memorial Medical Center and the University of California, Davis were also fined.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Calif. Fines 10 Hospitals, Alleging Safety Issues (Associated Press)

10 California Hospitals Fined a Total of $675,000 (by Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times)

CDPH Issues Penalties to Ten Hospitals (California Department of Public Health)

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