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Eight California Hospitals Fined for Medical Errors

From medication mistakes to surgical errors, many California hospitals place their patients in danger by failing to follow proper policies and procedures. Even more alarming, the injuries to patients are almost always preventable.

Most recently, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) fined eight California hospitals after investigations found the facilities’ noncompliance with licensing requirements caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients. The penalties totaled $475,000, and for several California hospitals, this was not their first administrative penalty.

Below are some of the most serious medical errors:

Bakersfield Memorial Hospital: The CDPH found that the hospital failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when it did not follow established policies and procedures for patient monitoring and intervention. The patient died of cardiopulmonary failure after a telemetry unit ran out of batteries. The low power alarm, which should have sounded, was turned off. The hospital was fined $50,000.

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center: The CDPH found that the hospital failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when it did not follow established policies and procedures for patient assessment and advocacy. The patient died from a head injury that occurred while medical staff was applying a pressure device that required the patient be turned side-to-side. According to the report, the table on which the procedure was performed was “narrow and slippery,” and her “head, shoulders and chest slipped down off the table.” This was the hospital’s fourth administrative penalty, resulting in a $75,000 fine.

Los Angeles Community Hospital: The CDPH found that the hospital failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when it did not follow established policies and procedures related to safe distribution and administration of medication. A patient suffered serious complications after receiving a dose of heparin 10 times higher than what was ordered. According to the report, “the pharmacist failed to transcribe the order correctly.” This was the hospital’s second administrative penalty, and it was fined $50,000.

Regional Medical Center of San Jose: The CDPH found that the hospital failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when it did not follow established policies and procedures related to safe distribution and administration of medical gas. A patient suffered permanent brain damage when a nurse mistakenly connected a cylinder of carbon dioxide gas to tubing for ventilation instead of oxygen. “Failure of the patient to receive oxygen as ordered caused the patient to become hypoxic (without oxygen) which required emergency medical treatment for stabilization. The patient suffered significant medical complications, including neurological damage,” according to the report. The hospital was fined $50,000 for its first administrative penalty.