12 California hospitals fined for endangering patients

Surgery illustration 
By: Sanvi Rizvi 

Hospitals in California, are routinely endangering the safety of patients, according to health officials.

Public health officials fined 12 California hospitals a combined $785,000 for mistakes that endangered patients on Thursday, including the misuse of a surgical device that investigators said resulted in the death of a patient.

Three of the fines involved incidents where patients had objects left inside them after operations and had to undergo additional surgery. Others were fined for mismanaging drugs, the California Department of Health said.

Authorities said the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland, was fined $100,000 after a doctor failed to follow instructions on how to safely use a laser during surgery. State regulators said that as a result, the patient suffered a stroke and vascular death.

Another Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Diego, was fined $75,000 after a doctor removed the wrong
kidney from a patient during surgery in late 2010. A status report said that the loss of the only healthy kidney of the older patient has left the patient suffering from chronic fatigue and depression.

Kaiser said all doctors who use lasers in their Oakland hospital were trained in laser safety and in the case of kidney disease, doctors are required to confirm the correct surgical site.

Fines for hospitals in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, Marin, Alameda, and Del Norte counties ranged from $10,000 to $100,000.