Medical Error Fines at California Hospitals

When you’re admitted to a Southern California hospital for treatment or a routine surgery, are you at risk of being injured because of medical negligence?

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News, ten different California hospitals received fines last month “after state health inspectors found deficiencies in care that resulted in one patient being abandoned on the side of the road to wait for transportation and another dying because a feeding tube was inserted incorrectly.” In short, investigators discovered serious issues relating to medical mistakes and medical malpractice.

Hospitals Fined Across Three Southern California Counties

When the California Department of Public Health issues fines to hospitals for medical mistakes, it releases inspection reports, along with a list of penalties, which “offer details into why and how the medical errors occurred.” Just last month, the department levied a total of $700,000 in fines to hospitals in Los Angeles county, San Bernardino county, and Riverside county.

What kinds of medical errors took place? The medical errors varied immensely from hospital to hospital, ranging from preventable medical mistakes to neglect.

Medical Mistakes and Hospital Liability

At Kaiser Permanente, a facility in Woodland Hills, inspectors confirmed that “a patient received 19 doses of three types of narcotic medications within a few hours and then died nine days later.” For that violation, the hospital received a fine of $50,000. While one of the medical professionals on staff might not have been the ones to improperly administer those fatal doses—investigators from the department learned that “a device that administers medications may have been too accessible to the patient’s family members”—the hospital still has a duty to that patient.

At Loma Linda University Medical Center, a resident physician’s mistake led to another $50,000 fine. At that hospital, the doctor “inserted a feeding tube that went into the patient’s lung instead of the stomach.” The error proved to be a fatal one. A statement from the facility emphasized that it’s “a teaching hospital,” and that its staff “carefully stud[ies] critical events to identify opportunities to improve systems and practices of patient care.” The adverse event occurred in 2010, and the medical center hasn’t been implicated in similar medical mistakes since then.

Patient Neglect and Preventable Deaths

In addition to active mistakes committed by the hospitals and their employees, some facilities were fined for injuries and deaths that resulted from neglect. For instance, at Southwest Healthcare in Murrieta, a “47-year-old patient suffering from pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney dysfunction” died in the emergency room “as a result of a delay in care and medications.”

The California Department of Public Health fined the facility $100,000.

Southwest Healthcare has been implicated in a number of serious and fatal medical errors in recent years, and the $100,000 fine was the 13th one it has received. Safety advocates are urging state officials to take specific actions against hospitals that “repeat medical errors.”

Medical errors and medical malpractice are much more common than any of us would like to believe. Indeed, an article in NPR cited medical mistakes as the third-leading cause of preventing deaths in the country. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury as a result of medical negligence, you should seek legal counsel. Contact an experienced San Diego medical malpractice attorney today to discuss your options.

See Related Blog Posts:

Patients at Risk of Injury in Smaller Military Hospitals

Medical Error Prevention and Medical Malpractice Legislation


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