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$9.25M in Fines for Medical Errors Goes Largely Unspent in CA

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 6, 2012

California health officials rolled out the latest batch of hospital horrors last Thursday, revealing in graphic detail what went wrong and how many patients died or suffered as a result of serious patient care errors.

Just as they've done every three months or so for the last four years, state officials administered a virtual, but very public flogging to a dozen or so healthcare systems for violations or deficiencies constituting an immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of a hospital patient.

Roughly one in five of the 235 incidents documented so far have involved retained cloth, plastic, or metal objects, such as sponges, lap towels, drill bits, retractors or guidewire.

Indeed, the latest batch imposed fines on hospitals where a retained sponge went undiscovered in a patient for two months, another for six months and a third, for four years.

Yes, that was four years.

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