California fines 18 hospitals for patient-care violations

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The California Department of Public Health has fined 18 California hospitals for violating laws regarding quality care for patients.

All hospitals in California are required to comply with state and federal laws to remain accredited. This is the fourth time the department has disciplined hospitals since a state law went into effect last year authorizing the agency to fine them for placing patients in serious jeopardy, Ken August, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health, told the Los Angeles Times.

Hospitals are fined $25,000 for each incident that "has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients," August said. The agency has issued 61 such penalties to 42 hospitals since the state law was enacted last year, including these 18 issued last week.

Most of the 18 hospitals are in Southern California, and violations include:

  • Anaheim General Hospital, for failing to ensure that medical devices were electrically safe and functioning within manufacturer's guidelines, for not preventing access to dangerous items, for failing to protect patients from extreme environmental temperatures and for failing to maintain the pharmacy's refrigerated temperatures where medications are kept;
  • Coastal Communities Hospital in Santa Ana, for administering an excessive dose of medication that resulted in a patient's death;
  • Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, for leaving a surgical instrument in a patient after surgery, requiring the patient to undergo a second surgery to remove it;
  • Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, for failing to follow policies and procedures for a patient with critically low laboratory test results, resulting in the patient's death; and for failing to ensure that licensed staff were competent and trained to insert intravenous catheters, causing a patient to die;
  • Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Riverside, for failing to prescribe, administer and monitor medication in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications on safe use of medication; and
  • Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Fresno, for failing to ensure pediatric patient safety by not establishing safe and effective systems to accurately and quickly determine pediatric doses of emergency medications.