State Officials Fine 13 Hospitals for Serious Patient Safety Lapses
On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health announced its latest round of fines against 13 state hospitals for major patient safety violations, the Los Angeles Times reports (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 1/28).
All of the incidents occurred between 2008 and 2009 (Nazario, "KPCC News," KPCC, 1/27). For the incidents that occurred in 2008, DPH levied $25,000 fines. A state law raised penalties to $50,000 for incidents occurring in 2009 and thereafter (California Healthline, 9/25/09).
A large number of the fines stemmed from medication errors and surgical equipment left inside patients (Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/28).
DPH's largest fine went to John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Indio, which received four penalties totaling $100,000. DPH said the incidents were related to concerns with the hospital's nursing staff (Payers & Providers, 1/28).
JFK Memorial officials said they would not appeal the fine. They said the hospital intends to review and update its audit, oversight and training policies (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/27).
DPH is requiring all penalized hospitals to create plans to address patient safety issues.
Adding Up the Fines
Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of DPH's Center for Health Care Quality, said the department has issued 134 penalties against 90 hospitals since the state began issuing fines in 2007. Twenty-two fines have been appealed, she added.
Billingsley said the state has collected $2.3 million in fines so far (Los Angeles Times, 1/28). She said the state uses the revenue for efforts to boost hospital care quality and patient safety.
Billingsley added that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has proposed a budget provision that would allocate $800,000 of the collected fines toward a state program designed to reduce the incidence of foreign objects left inside patients after surgery (Perkes, Orange County Register, 1/27).
Links and headlines to other coverage of California's hospital fines appear below.
- "California Hospitals Fined for Alleged Immediate Jeopardy Mistakes" (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 1/28).
- "3 Bay Area Hospitals Issued Safety Citations" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/28).
- "State Fines Kaiser Over Medication Mix-Up" (Metinko, Oakland Tribune, 1/27).