North County Hospitals Fined for Medical Negligence

A recent article in UT San Diego reported that the state of California fined three North County hospitals “a total of $200,000 for preventable lapses in care.” These incidents of medical malpractice included “two deadly falls,” as well as a medication error that led a newborn baby to suffer from seizures.

In fact, the California Department of Public Health actually fined a total of ten hospitals in our state during the first week of June 2013, and three of those hospitals included the facilities mentioned above in the San Diego area. The fines highlighted medication errors and patient care problems at Fallbook Hospital, Palomar Health in Escondido, and Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside.

If you or your loved ones have suffered injuries as the result of medical negligence or medical malpractice, you may be eligible for compensation. While recent hospital fines in California alert us to medical negligence in several facilities in our area, medical malpractice and medical ‘never events’ happen more often than we’d like to think. An experienced personal injury attorney can speak to you about your case today.

What are ‘Never Events’?

According to California state law, the Department of Public Health can “issue administrative penalties” that range from $25,000 to $100,000 when investigations reveal evidence of negligent hospital care that has put a patient in “immediate jeopardy of serious injury or death.” In many cases, these incidents are known as medical “never events.”

What is a “never event”? It’s a term that the former CEO of the National Quality Forum (NQF) introduced in the early 2000s to describe “particularly shocking medical errors that should never occur.” The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has expanded the list over the past decade, and personal injury lawyers and medical professionals now use the term to signify not only especially egregious errors in the healthcare setting, such as wrong-site surgery, but also to indicate adverse events that are “unambiguous, serious, and usually preventable.”

Since 2011, “never events” have been labeled according to six different categories, which include: surgical, product or device, patient protection, care management, environmental, radiologic, and criminal. Still, the most common “never event” to occur continues to be wrong-site-surgery, followed by operation or post-operation complications, delays in treatment, medication errors, and patient falls. If you’ve been a victim of any of the categories of “never events,” you should speak to a licensed attorney to discuss your options.

San Diego Area Hospital Crimes and Fines

According to the UT San Diego article, Fallbrook Hospital received a $25,000 penalty for “administering the wrong medication to a newborn.” In January 2011, this medication error resulted in a newborn baby receiving a dose of methergine, an anti-hemorrhage drug that was supposed to be administered to the baby’s mother who “suffered uterine bleeding after delivery.” Instead, the dose was injected into the newborn, who then began to exhibit “seizure-like activity.” The two nurses on staff responsible for the baby were “subject to disciplinary actions in accordance with the hospital’s policy and procedure.” The infant will require additional neurological examinations to determine the extent of brain injury as a result of the medication error.

More serious incidents occurred at Palomar and Tri-City, where higher fines were imposed following patients’ deaths. Both hospitals had been fined in the past, which also contributed to higher fines than the $25,000 penalty for Fallbrook. The California Department of Public Health fined Palomar $100,000 after a 64-year-old patient died after falling and hitting his head. Tri-City was fined $75,000 after a cancer patient died from internal hemorrhaging after falling out of bed.

If you have questions or concerns about filing a claim for medical malpractice or medical negligence, contact us today to discuss your case.

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