Wednesday, November 24, 2010

State Officials Fine 12 Hospitals for Major Patient Safety Issues

On Friday, the California Department of Public Health announced fines levied on 12 hospitals for serious medical errors that sometimes led to patient injuries or death, the Los Angeles Times reports (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 11/13).

The department issued 14 penalties totaling $575,000 (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 11/15).


Under a 2006 state law, hospitals must notify state regulators of all significant patient injuries.

For incidents occurring prior to 2009, the state issued $25,000 fines for each violation. Starting in January 2009, the sanctions increased to $50,000 for a hospital's first violation, $75,000 for its second and $100,000 for its third and subsequent violations (California Healthline, 5/21).

Since the law took effect, state regulators have issued 170 fines totaling $4.8 million against 112 hospitals. Hospitals are appealing 39 of those fines.

Latest Penalties

The 12 hospitals targeted in the latest round of penalties are:

  • California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, which received one $50,000 fine and one $75,000 fine;
  • Citrus Valley Medical Center in Covina, which received one $25,000 fine;
  • Hanford Community Medical Center, which received one $25,000 fine;
  • Kindred Hospital in Westminster, which received one $25,000 fine;
  • Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, which received one $50,000 fine;
  • Petaluma Valley Hospital, which received one $50,000 fine;
  • Placentia Linda Hospital, which received one $25,000 fine;
  • Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, which received one $50,000 fine;
  • Southwest Healthcare System in Riverside County, which received one $25,000 fine;
  • UC-San Francisco Medical Center, which received two $25,000 fines;
  • USC University Hospital in Los Angeles, which received one $50,000 fine; and
  • Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, which received one $75,000 fine (HealthLeaders Media, 11/15).

DPH requires all penalized facilities to submit plans to correct the patient safety issues. Hospitals also can appeal the fines (Los Angeles Times, 11/13).

Funds collected from the penalties are set aside for projects to improve patient safety (HealthLeaders Media, 11/15).

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