Nine California hospitals fined for medical errors


State officials have fined nine California hospitals for medical errors last year that in some cases killed or seriously injured patients, according to a report made public Thursday.

California Department of Public Health officials have required hospital officials — who may appeal the fines — to submit plans to correct the problems.

Three hospitals in Orange County and the Inland Empire face $50,000 penalties, the first such fines for each.


Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo was fined $50,000 in connection with a nurse mistakenly giving morphine intended for a newborn’s mother to the baby in April 2009. The baby “exhibited respiratory depression, and required intubation” but recovered, according to a state investigator’s report.

Hospital officials noted in a statement released Thursday that they reported the incident to the state immediately and took steps to prevent future medication errors.

“Consistent with our commitment to our patients, we have conducted a process review and provided ongoing education and training for our patient care teams with regard to administering medications,” the statement said.

In San Bernardino County, Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree was fined after a 4-year-old girl was burned on her back by cauterizing equipment during a tonsillectomy last May.

“We took it as an important learning opportunity and conducted a thorough review of the circumstances,” the hospital’s chief executive, Lionel Chadwick, said in a statement Thursday. “We redoubled our staff training and competencies.”

In Riverside, Parkview Community Hospital was fined after a surgeon with hospital privileges last July removed the wrong kidney from a Spanish-speaking patient with a kidney tumor who investigators found was not provided an interpreter before he consented to the surgery. Francisco Torres, 72, lost his one healthy kidney, was placed on dialysis, and sued the surgeon and hospital for medical negligence. A hospital spokeswoman did not return calls Thursday.


Four hospitals in San Diego County, Pomerado Hospital in Poway, Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside were among those fined. Elsewhere in the state, Alameda County Medical Center and Marin General Hospital also face fines.

The state has issued 156 fines since they were first required by law in January 2007, said Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of the department’s Center for Health Care Quality. In all, 108 hospitals have been fined $4.8 million, the state has collected nearly $3 million, and 41 of the fines have been appealed, Billingsley said.