Medical Errors Draw $770,000 in Fines in CA

Cheryl Clark, February 4, 2014

California has issued its latest round of administrative penalties to 13 hospitals where patients have been subject to serious injury or death as a result of regulatory noncompliance.

Five patients died, a sixth sustained severe neurological damage, a seventh coded but was resuscitated, and an eighth endured a second surgery because of a retained surgical sponge, according to state documents detailing dangerous errors in eight California hospitals.

These incidents, all of which resulted from regulatory noncompliance, resulted in assessments of $475,000 in financial penalties against these hospitals under the state's "immediate jeopardy" law. The state issued fines totaling $295,000 to another five hospitals where harm came to patients receiving treatment for mental or behavioral health.

Each event cited by the state caused or was likely to cause death or serious injury. Documents with specific descriptions of the incidents and each hospital's accepted plan of correction may be viewed on the California Department of Public Health's website. To date, the state has fined 166 hospitals under the immediate jeopardy statute a total of $14,105,000, $10,897,626 of which has been collected. Hospitals are appealing 62 fines.

The latest round of administrative penalties are:

1. Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, Bakersfield, CA
A patient who was hooked to a telemetry unit died of cardiopulmonary failure after the unit's audible alarms that would have indicated a low battery "were turned off."


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