Hospitals fined for violations

Times Staff Writer

Eighteen California hospitals have been fined by the state for violating laws regarding quality care for patients, the state public health department announced Monday.

Most of the 18 hospitals are in Southern California, said Ken August, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health. All hospitals in California are required to comply with state and federal laws to remain accredited.

Monday marked the fourth time the department has disciplined hospitals since a state law went into effect last year authorizing the agency to fine them for placing patients in serious jeopardy.


Hospitals are fined $25,000 for each incident that “has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients,” August said. The agency has issued 61 such penalties to 42 hospitals since the state law was enacted last year, including those announced Monday.

The hospitals and their violations are:

* Anaheim General Hospital, for failing to ensure that medical devices were electrically safe and functioning within manufacturer’s guidelines, for not preventing access to dangerous items, for failing to protect patients from extreme environmental temperatures and for failing to maintain the pharmacy’s refrigerated temperatures where medications are kept.

* Coastal Communities Hospital in Santa Ana, for administering an excessive dose of medication that resulted in a patient’s death.

* Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, for failing to investigate a sexual abuse allegation.

* Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, for failing to follow policies and procedures for a patient with critically low laboratory test results, resulting in the patient’s death; and for failing to ensure that licensed staff were competent and trained to insert intravenous catheters, causing a patient to die.

* Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, for failing to remove a surgical sponge in a patient after surgery, requiring the patient to undergo a second surgery to remove it.

* Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, for failing to activate a stationary ventilator during a transfer of the patient from a transport ventilator, resulting in the patient’s death.

* Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, for leaving a surgical instrument in a patient after surgery, requiring the patient to undergo a second surgery to remove it.

* Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Riverside, for failing to prescribe, administer and monitor medication in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications on safe use of medication.

* Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Fresno, for failing to ensure pediatric patient safety by not establishing safe and effective systems to accurately and quickly determine pediatric doses of emergency medications.

* Los Alamitos Medical Center, for failing to use a seat belt while a patient was in a wheelchair. The patient fell and died due to the fall.

* Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, for failing to accurately label tissue specimens, leading to unnecessary surgery for one patient and resulting in a delayed treatment of another; and for not providing screening examinations and stabilizing medical care in a timely manner for two patients in the emergency room.

* Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, for failing to provide adequate nursing staffing for a suicide watch and for failing to meet the needs of a patient.

* Loma Linda University Medical Center, for administering a potentially fatal overdose of a medication to a patient.

* Palomar Pomerado Health System in Poway, for failing to maintain its anesthesia equipment in proper functioning order, resulting in three patients’ experiencing “surgical awareness” during surgical procedures.

* Promise Hospital of San Diego for allowing an unlicensed staff member to function as a licensed nurse.

* St. Agnes Hospital in Fresno, for not having a system to identify, report, investigate and control surgical site infections for cardiopulmonary surgeries.

* San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning, for failing to have the correct drugs for treatment of emergencies in the emergency room, the post-anesthesia care unit, surgery and radiology areas; for failing to have the appropriate equipment and supplies to treat pediatric patients in the emergency room; and for failing to supply emergency “crash” carts with necessary drugs to treat life-threatening cardiac situations, resulting in potential death for patients in emergency cardiac situations.

* Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego, for failing to ensure patient safety in the surgical department when a patient fell off an operating table during surgery.