This week's news included developments that some hospitals will not welcome, as it appears local governments and employer groups are scrutinizing hospital operations more carefully.
The Los Angeles City Attorney on Wednesday filed criminal charges against a Kaiser Permanente facility, alleging that hospital personnel discharged a patient and transported her to the Skid Row neighborhood against her will. Diana Bonta -- a Kaiser VP and former director of the Department of Health Services under former Gov. Gray Davis (D) -- questioned the premise of the lawsuit and said that Kaiser modified its discharge procedures once the incident was brought to the HMO's attention. At least 10 other hospitals are under investigation in similar cases.
On the patient-safety front, the Leapfrog Group and a consortium of Chicago-area employers on Wednesday called on U.S. hospitals to apologize and waive costs for medical errors that the employers say should never occur and for which patients should not be billed. The development marks the latest turn in a push by employers to avoid medical errors and address health care costs. The American Hospital Association said that it expected most hospitals would sign on to the proposal but added that each medical error case would have to be evaluated individually.
This week's Legislative Update also highlights California hospitals' response to state voters' rejection of a ballot measure that would have increased the state tobacco tax partly to fund hospital emergency department services.