Among the recent California immediate jeopardy fines against hospitals that harmed patients was a $100,000 penalty against Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego was a particularly egregious and sad incident, not just because of the harm it caused a 53-year-old man, but because of how preventable it was.
>>>Slideshow: CA hospitals penalized
for medical errors
The patient was assessed at a nearby hospital, where a physician performed imaging studies that revealed a cancerous mass on his right kidney. He was referred to Sharp for surgery.
The physician erred in his notes, writing that the mass was on the left kidney.
He promptly corrected it to clarify that the lesion "is actually located within the **RIGHT** kidney." But the Sharp surgeon failed to see the second note, did not bring the patient's kidney images with him into the operating room, and neglected to remotely access them electronically, despite his team asking if the surgery should be postponed until he had those images.
The Sharp surgeon told state investigators that he "intended to access the images related to the case, but forgot the necessary log-on information needed to access the images remotely."
The patient's healthy kidney removed, a second surgery was necessary to remove the cancerous kidney, and the patient will be subjected to dialysis treatments for the rest of his life.
3. Missing Hospital Patient Found Dead In Hospital Stairwell
One medical error that would clearly make John T. James's list comes under the category of utterly unfathomable. It's the gruesome story of what happened to Lynne Spalding, 57, a patient at San Francisco General Hospital. On Sept. 19, Spalding was admitted for treatment of an infection, but two days later she could not be found.
Spalding's body was discovered in a hospital stairwell 17 days later. An autopsy is underway to determine the cause of death.
And the story gets worse. An attorney for Spalding's family told the San Francisco Chronicle that he was told by hospital officials that four requests were made to law enforcement officials to search for the patient. It's unclear whether those searches were conducted.