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Avoidable mistakes rise in California despite hospital efforts

San Francisco Chronicle, June 2, 2010

In the latest fiscal year, California hospitals reported 197 cases of "retained foreign objects" for a total of 350 incidents over the past two years. In 29 of the cases involving a retained foreign object, the state deemed the problems serious enough to issue fines, according to public health officials. Three years ago, a new law gave state public health officials the authority to issue administrative penalties for violations that put patients at risk of death or injury. California intends to use $800,000 of the almost $3 million in such hospital fines that have been collected since 2007 to research how to help hospitals reduce their chances of leaving objects behind after a surgery or procedure, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.