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Twelve California Hospitals Fined for Medical Errors

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently announced that it imposed fines on 12 hospitals in the state for committing medical errors that placed patients’ safety at risk.

Overall, the fines totaled $775,000, and the adverse events involved ranged from medication mistakes to surgical errors. In many cases, this was not the first time the facilities were cited by the CDPH.

The penalized hospitals included three in San Diego County. Below is a brief summary of the medical errors that resulted in the fines:

Kaiser Foundation Hospital–San Diego: The hospital was fined $75,000 for failing to follow established policies and procedures regarding the safety of a patient. According to CDPH documents, a nurse in the neonatal unit placed a premature infant under an unregulated radiant heat warmer after birth and failed to monitor the baby’s temperature. As a result, the infant suffered a temperature spike to 107.2 Fahrenheit, as well as third degree burns. It is the hospital’s third “Immediate Jeopardy” administrative penalty, which is assessed when a situation in which the hospital’s noncompliance with one or more requirements of licensure has caused or is likely to cause serious injury or death to the patient.

San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital: The hospital was fined $50,000 for failing to follow established policies and procedures regarding the safety of a patient. According to the CDPH, the hospital failed to verify that staff members followed the hospital's policies and procedures regarding the use of a manual restraint and handling a patient emergency in which there is imminent danger to self or others. The patient sustained an arm fracture when the staff members applied the manual restraint. As a result, the patient underwent a surgical operation to repair his fractured arm. This is the hospital’s first Immediate Jeopardy administrative penalty.

Scripps Mercy Hospital–Chula Vista: The hospital was fined $50,000 for failing to follow established policies and procedures regarding the safety of a patient. The CDPH citation states that nursing staff failed to administer a medication to a patient to treat a life-threatening serum potassium (a mineral normally found in the body that conducts electrical impulses in the heart) level and communicate the status of her condition to physicians. Untreated critically high levels of potassium in the blood can lead to cardiac arrest and death. The patient continued to have untreated critically high serum potassium levels prior to her cardiac arrest and death.

If you or someone you love has suffered from medical negligence, don’t hesitate to contacta San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.