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10 Calif. hospitals fined for medical errors

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The California Department of Public Health fined 10 California hospitals $785,000 Thursday for errors that caused “immediate jeopardy” to the health and safety of patients.

medical moneyThe civil fines, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, were issued to hospitals throughout the state for errors that occurred in 2010 and 2011.

All of the incidents either caused or were likely to cause the death or serious injury of a patient and occurred because the hospital failed to comply with licensing requirements, officials said.

Four of the hospitals fined were Kaiser facilities. At Kaiser South Bay, a patient died after mistakenly being given a blood thinner instead of medication to stop bleeding in the digestive track. The state fined the facility $50,000. At Kaiser San Diego, surgeons removed a patient’s incorrect kidney, resulting in a $75,000 fine.

Hospital officials said that while extensive safety measures were in place, staffers acted quickly to identify the cause of the error and implemented safety measures to help ensure such an event would not be repeated.

“We sincerely regret that this error in 2010 occurred at the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. While these types of incidents are very rare, we take the matter extremely seriously,” according to a hospital statement. “At the time of the incident, we immediately reported the matter to the California Department of Public Health, and fully cooperated with the investigation.”

The hospital was assessed a $50,000 penalty after a towel was left inside a patient who underwent surgery for gallstones in 2009, U-T San Diego reported.

Two facilities in Los Angeles County and two in Orange County were among those fined.

A few of the penalties were due to surgical items being left behind in patients during operations. At Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia, surgeons left in a sponge when removing a patient’s gall bladder. The fine was $50,000.

—- Los Angeles Times reporter Tony Perry contributed to this story