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San Diego Hospitals Fined for Patient Safety Lapses

Fourteen California hospitals were recently fined a total of $913,550 for patient safety issues. All of the hospitals were fined after investigations by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) found the facilities’ noncompliance with licensing requirements caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients.

As San Diego medical malpractice attorneys, we are concerned that two of the facilities are located in our area. The Tri-City Medical Center (Oceanside) was fined $47,025 after two sponges were left in a patient after surgery. The serious medical error resulted in a second surgery for the patient and a total hysterectomy.

As detailed by the CDPH, the patient suffered an ectopic pregnancy and required surgery. During what should have been a routine procedure, the surgeon closed the incision prior to the final counting of all sponges used during the operation. Although one of the nurses determined two lap sponges were missing, the patient was wheeled out of the operating room.

As a result of the hospital's failure to follow its surgical count procedure, the patient was required to undergo a second surgery to remove the sponges, resulting in the removal of her ovaries, remaining fallopian tube, uterus, and cervix. She was admitted to the intensive care unit in critical condition. Although she survived, the patient could no longer have children.

Scripps Mercy Hospital (San Diego) was fined $100,000. Staff at this hospital failed to protect the safety of a patient who was admitted after a suicide attempt. The patient eventually broke through a window and fell to his death.

According to the CDPH investigation, the patient was admitted after an attempted suicide. During an initial nursing assessment, the staff learned that the patient was suffering from auditory hallucinations; however, registered nurses (RNs) failed to verify that the attending physician was informed of the patient’s hallucinations, use of psychotropic medications prior to the admission, and psychiatrist information.

In addition, there was no documented evidence to demonstrate that consistent room and environmental risk assessments had been performed in the medical-surgical units for the care and management of psychiatric patients who required medical clearance prior to their admission to the Behavioral Health Unit. As a result of these failures, the patient jumped off his bed, through a ¼ inch glass pane window, falling approximately sixty feet down to his death onto the fourth-floor rooftop.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a medical error, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.