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Hospital chain misdiagnosed infections, probe says

San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 2011

A California hospital chain under investigation for allegations of overbilling the Medicare system has inaccurately diagnosed patients with a blood infection known as septicemia, a complex and deadly condition that hospitals are paid a premium to treat, a state investigation has found. California Department of Public Health inspectors examined records at four hospitals owned by Prime Healthcare Services and found that 22 of 120 patients diagnosed with septicemia showed few symptoms of the disease. At a San Bernardino County hospital, a patient was diagnosed with septicemia even though records showed "no sign of infection," inspectors found. At a Los Angeles County hospital, inspectors said seven patients diagnosed with septicemia showed signs of having urinary tract infections, a far less serious condition.