State health officials charge CA hospitals more than $800k in fines

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State health officials have announced more than $800,000 in fines against 13 California hospitals whose failure to comply with licensing requirements either caused or could have caused serious injury or death to patients.

Four of the 13 hospitals cited by the California Department of Public Health are in Orange, L.A. and Riverside counties. All of the penalties stemmed from events that happened in 2010.

The state fined Chapman Medical Center in Orange County $75,000 for failure to protect a patient from sexual molestation. A female patient there reported that she was kissed and fondled by a male nurse, while under sedation in the emergency room.

Southwest Healthcare System in Riverside County received its 8th penalty from the state, the most recent one resulting from the death of a newborn baby after the hospital’s labor and delivery nurses allegedly failed to provide appropriate emergency measures.

The state fined the hospital $100,000.

In Los Angeles County, the fines were for the most common violation: foreign objects left inside a patient, which required a second surgery for removal. The state dinged USC’s Keck Hospital $75,000 for leaving the tip of an electrosurgical instrument inside a patient. And they fined the Motion Picture & Television Hospital $50,000 for leaving a sponge inside a patient there.

The hospitals have ten days in which to appeal the penalties. The state has issued 224 such penalties and has collected $5,900,000 in fines.

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