Fullerton hospital fined $100,000 for removing wrong kidney from cancer patient

Dr. Niraj Desai (L) sews in a kidney to

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

A patient receives a kidney during a transplant operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital June 26, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif., has been fined for removing the wrong kidney from a cancer patient. Nine other California hospitals were fined for similar actions that put patient safety in jeopardy.

The California Department of Public Health announced Thursday it has issued administrative penalties to 10 hospitals in California for actions that put patient safety in jeopardy. 

Six of the 10 hospitals are in Southern California, with fines ranging between $50,000 and $100,000.

Public health spokeswoman Debby Rogers said the fines are tied to incidents that occurred between 2010 and 2012.

"Immediate jeopardy is defined as when the hospital's failure to comply with one or more requirements of licensure causes, or is likely to cause, serious injury or death to a patient," she said. "So it's very serious when this level of penalty is issued to a hospital."

St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton received its fifth penalty after reporting last year that surgeons removed the wrong kidney from a patient with cancer. The healthy kidney was taken out, and the mistake was discovered shortly after surgery.

Public health officials later determined that staff failed to follow policy by not displaying scans of the kidneys prior to surgery. Those images were taken at another hospital and not been included in the patient's records. 

St. Jude spokeswoman DruAnn Copping said in a statement that protecting the health and well-being of patients is fundamental to the hospital's mission and and that it has put safeguards in place to make sure staff follows protocol.

"While this situation is unique in that the chain of events began long before the patient was admitted to the hospital, we thoroughly investigated and identified every possible area of improvement," Copping said. "Through transparency and collaboration, it is our hope that other hospitals will also learn from our experience, making surgical procedures safer for all patients."

The California Department of Health first started issuing administrative penalties to hospitals in 2007. Since then, health officials have issued 286 penalties to 155 hospitals in California. 

Details on other Southern California hospitals fined:

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