California penalizes 13 hospitals for patient risk

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Thirteen California hospitals have been assessed administrative penalties after a determination that the facilities' noncompliance with licensing requirements has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients, according to the California Department of Public Health.  The following hospitals received penalties:

1. California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles: The hospital failed to implement its established policies for the safe and effective administration of medication. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000.

2. Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa: The hospital staff failed to follow the policies and procedures for surgical and invasive procedures. This is the second administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000. The first administrative penalty was issued in August 2008.

3. Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach: The hospital failed to protect the health and safety of a patient while providing diagnostic services. This is the hospital's third administrative penalty. The penalty is $50,000. The first administrative penalty was issued in August 2008 and the second was issued in September 2009.

4. John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio: The hospital failed to implement its procedures for the ongoing monitoring of patients and failed to follow procedures for the safe administration of medication. This is the first penalty issued to this hospital. Second, the hospital failed to ensure nursing staff competency and failed to follow procedures for the safe administration of medication. Third, the hospital failed to ensure nursing staff competency and failed to follow the hospital's policies for the ongoing monitoring of patients. Fourth, the hospital failed to follow its policies for the ongoing monitoring of patients and failed to follow procedures for the safe administration of medication. Each penalty is $25,000, equaling $100,000.

5. Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland/Richmond: The hospital failed to implement policies and procedures for the safe administration of medication. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000.

6. Los Angeles Community Hospital in Los Angeles: The hospital failed to execute its procedures to follow physician orders when providing patient care. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000.

7. Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles: The hospital failed to follow its policies and procedures for ongoing assessment and monitoring of its patients. This is the first administrative penalty issued to the hospital. The penalty is $25,000.

8. San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco: The hospital failed to ensure the health of a patient when the hospital did not follow its surgical procedures, resulting in a patient having to undergo removal of a retained foreign object. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $25,000.

9. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose: The hospital failed to follow its policies and procedures to provide a comprehensive and accurate assessment of a patient. This is the first administrative penalty issued to the hospital. The penalty is $50,000.

10. Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego: The hospital failed to ensure the safety of a patient when the hospital did not follow its surgical procedures, resulting in a patient having to undergo a second surgery to remove a retained foreign object. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000.

11. St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton: The hospital failed to follow its policies and procedures for ongoing assessment and monitoring of a patient. This is the second administrative penalty issued to the hospital. The penalty is $50,000.

12. University of California, San Diego Medical Center in San Diego: The hospital failed to ensure the health of a patient when the hospital did not follow its surgical policies, resulting in a patient having to undergo a second surgery to remove a retained foreign object. This is the third administrative penalty issued to this hospital—after May 2008 and May 2009. The penalty is $50,000.

13.  Western Medical Center, Santa Ana in Santa Ana: The hospital failed to ensure the safety of a patient when the hospital did not follow its surgical procedures, resulting in a patient having to undergo a second surgery to remove a retained foreign object. This is the second administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000.

The administrative penalties were issued under authority granted by Health and Safety Code section 1280.1. The incidents above occurred in 2008 and 2009.

The difference in fine amounts is due to a new law that took effect Jan. 1, 2009. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation to more than double administrative penalties for violations or deficiencies constituting an immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of patients.