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California Department of Public Health issues penalties to 3 Los Angeles County hospitals

Wally Skalij –– – 052678.ME.0912.harbor2.WS A trauma patient is rushed into the emergency room at Ha
A trauma patient is rushed into the emergency room at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in 2002. The hospital was among 14 in California fined by the state health department.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The California Department of Public Health has issued penalties to 14 California hospitals, including three in Los Angeles County, for incidents that could have caused serious injury or death to patients, the state health agency announced this week.

The penalties — as well as more than $1.1 million in fines — were issued for incidents between 2012 and 2016. The Department of Public Health conducted an investigation in each case.

In Los Angeles County, the hospitals cited were Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, PIH Health Hospital in Downey and White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights.

Harbor-UCLA was cited for leaving gauze inside a patient’s pelvis after a surgical procedure. The patient, who was not named, had a hysterectomy on April 30, 2015, according to state documents detailing the incident.

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The gauze stuck to numerous internal organs, including the patient’s small intestines, colon and bladder, causing pain and infection, documents show. She experienced “thick, foul-smelling discharge” and severe pain, according to the health department.

More than a month after her initial surgery, she had to have a second procedure, in which surgeons had to remove 30 cm of her bowel to remove the dressing.

The hospital was fined $47,025 by the state.

The health department penalized PIH Health Hospital over its treatment of a female patient in September 2015. That person was admitted to the facility with pneumonia and congestive heart failure, records show. The patient underwent an MRI and was returned to her room in the hospital’s telemetry unit.

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However, documents state, the floor’s monitor technician — someone trained to watch telemetry monitors and recognize irregular heart rhythms — never was told the patient was there. She was found later in her room, slumped over, without a heartbeat, according to the state health department. She had not been connected to a central telemetry monitor, and no alarms sounded when her heart stopped.

The patient died in the intensive care unit days later. PIH Health Hospital was fined $47,025.

White Memorial Medical Center was penalized for its care of a 73-year-old patient who was admitted in January 2013 with a urinary tract infection, records show. The patient was not properly repositioned in bed and developed a deep-tissue bed sore.

The hospital was fined $50,000.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson


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