California rings up negligent hospitals for $825,000 in penalties, fines

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The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is fining 13 hospitals a total of $825,000 over licensing irregularities that either caused or were likely to cause serious injury or death to patients.

A June 1 notice from the department shows the lineup of violating hospitals to include three Kaiser Foundation facilities, the University of California at San Diego Medical Center and the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Los Angeles County.

Some of the penalized organizations are repeat offenders. Southwest Healthcare System in Murrieta, Calif., was cited for the eighth time, this latest slap being a $100,000 ticket for failing to “ensure the health and safety of a patient when it did not follow policies and procedures to provide emergency measures to protect a patient.”

The CDPH notice pointed out that, under new provisions, an administrative penalty carries a fine of $50,000 for the first violation, $75,000 for the second and $100,000 for the third or subsequent violation by the licensee. Incidents that occurred prior to 2009 are not counted when determining the fine amounts.

The department also said that, when hospitals receive their survey findings, they must provide CDPH with a plan explaining how they will correct the problem and prevent its recurrence.

The department has posted the list, complete with links to PDF files showing its findings at each of the 13 penalized hospitals, on its website.