California Fines 11 Hospitals for Lapses in Care Delivery
On Thursday, the Department of Public Health announced fines against 11 hospitals statewide for violations that put patients at immediate risk of serious injury or death, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Sevrens Lyons, San Jose Mercury News, 3/21).
Under SB 1312, the department can levy fines instead of just citations for such violations, according to Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of the Center for Healthcare Quality at the Department of Public Health (Pal, Contra Costa Times, 3/21). The law took effect Jan. 1, 2007 (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/21).
Billingsley said that most of the fines came in cases involving errors in policies and procedures related to administering medications (Aguirre, Oakland Tribune, 3/20).
State officials said the fines result from investigations initiated after an adverse event, licensing survey or complaint involving a hospital (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/21).
Each fine was $25,000, the highest amount allowed under the law at this time. However, Billingsley said the maximum fine will increase to $50,000 under new regulations (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/21).
One facility -- Kindred Hospital in Modesto -- received three fines for separate violations (Blankstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/20).
Billingsley said that fined hospitals have resolved the problems that triggered the initial citations (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/21).
In addition, she said that hospitals statewide are reviewing violations that triggered the fines and are working to ensure that they have policies in place to prevent similar problems. Billingsley added that a statewide taskforce will suggest process improvements after reviewing medication problems.
Billingsley said, "We firmly believe this leads to improvement in patient health and safety throughout the state."
Thursday's announcement marks the second round of fines that the department has issued under the law.
The department fined nine hospitals last year, and the Sacramento Bee reports that four of those facilities appealed the fines (Jewett, Sacramento Bee, 3/21). However, the Chronicle reports that five facilities appealed the fines (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/21).
Hospitals have 10 days from the date the fine is issued to appeal (Contra Costa Times, 3/21).
Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" on Friday reported on the fines. The segment includes comments from Billingsley (Weiss, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 3/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.