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Nine More Hospitals Fined $550,000 for Putting Patients at Risk

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 21, 2010

"There was no documented evidence that Patient A was provided information about his diseased left kidney, options, use of anesthesia or possible risks and complications by a staff member. There was no documentation found to indicate a Spanish-speaking clinician reviewed the consent Patient A signed for a right radical nephrectomy," the state said.

"This failed practice potentially led to Patient A's mistakenly signing a consent for removal of the incorrect (right) kidney," the state document says.

As a result of the errors, the patient now must undergo dialysis two to three times a week for four hours at a time, the report said.

In a news conference yesterday, Billingsley said that the state does require hospitals to provide competent translation services for patients and family members to communicate with providers.

"Obviously, we're a multicultural state, and this service is paramount to the delivery of healthcare in California."

At Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, San Diego County, oxygen that was passing around the edges of a mask on a patient during surgery in September "leaked onto the operative site and was ignited by the electrocautery, (a surgical device that uses electrical current to cause tissue destruction) causing a flash fire. The fire lit up the sterile drapes and Patient A sustained burns to his face and singeing to the hair."

The state document says, "Patient A sat up (under local anesthesia) after the fire started. The OR staff extinguished the fire with water and patting the drapes." According to a plastic surgeon subsequently called in to evaluate the patient's injury, the patient sustained first- and second-degree burns on the face, chin, cheeks, ears, and forehead and the eyelashes were singed.

The fine is the second one for Tri-City.

Hospital COO Casey Fatch said, "We regret this occurrence and take our commitment to ensure the safety and quality of care of our patients and their families seriously." She said preventive measures have been put in place.

Another incident involving a fire occurred at Hi-Desert Medical Center, Joshua Tree, San Bernardino County, resulting in second degree burns to the back of a 4-year old undergoing a tonsillectomy last June.

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