Four SoCal hospitals fined for jeopardizing patients

Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, CA

Tony Hoffarth/ Flickr

The state fined Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance $50,000 after a surgeon cut an artery during a knee replacement operation, leading to the patient's death.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued administrative penalties on Thursday against nine California hospitals for failure to comply with licensing requirements that either caused or could have caused serious injury or death to patients.

Two hospitals in Los Angeles County and two in Orange County were among those cited. All are required to provide the state with a plan of correction to prevent future incidents.

The two most serious incidents resulted in patient deaths.

One death happened at LAC/Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, which was fined $50,000 for failure to ensure the health and safety of a patient who suffered a cut artery during knee replacement surgery that led to extreme blood loss, two amputations, and later, the death of the patient. The violation is the medical center's fifth. 

The other death occurred at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.  State officials fined the facility $100,000  for failure to prevent a patient fall that resulted in death.  This was the sixth administrative penalty for the hospital. 

Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo was fined $100,000 after a contract nurse incorrectly removed a jugular catheter from a patient who subsequently suffered cardiac arrest. The patient survived. The penalty is the seventh one accrued by the hospital.

State health officials also fined Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster after a surgical team there left a soft device used to shield a patient’s organs from damage during surgery inside the patient, resulting in the need for a second surgery.  The $50,000 fine marked the hospital's first administrative penalty. 

Administrative penalties from the CDPH carry a fine of $50,000 for the first violation, $75,000 for the second, and $100,000 for the third or subsequent violation that occurred after 2009.  Prior to that, violations carried fines of only $25,000.

About a quarter of all administrative penalties are for a retained foreign object after surgery, 22 percent are for patient care issues and about 20 percent are for medication errors, the CDPH says. 

The cited hospitals may appeal the penalties by requesting a hearing within ten calendar days of notification. 

 

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