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Local hospital hit with fine

Posted: December 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is one of 14 California hospitals fined Thursday by The California Department of Public Health for “failing to comply with licensing requirements that caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients.”

Henry Mayo was issued a penalty of $50,000 for failing to implement policies and procedures that would have ensured medicine was administered safely, the health department report states.

The department discovered that a patient at Henry Mayo in 2010 was given an overdose of an antibiotic which led to kidney failure.

“In January 2010, our pharmacy department identified a potential medication error and immediately notified appropriate hospital staff,” hospital spokeswoman Andie Bogdan said Thursday.

“The patient in question did not suffer any long-term damage as a result of the error, and the subsequent investigation by our staff resulted in several beneficial procedural changes shortly after the event,” she said.

“Procedural and process changes included specific computerized alerts for uncommon medications and dosages,” Bogdan said.

“Additionally, Henry Mayo implemented housewide a digital bedside medication verification system which uses bar coding technology to alert nursing staff if there is any discrepancy related to the right dose of the right medication for the right patient at the right time in the right route.

“Henry Mayo continues to make consistent improvements in quality and safety, and will continue to do so,” she said.

On April 7, 2010, a review of the hospital’s Medication Error Reduction Plan revealed that a patient admitted to Henry Mayo in 2010 for pneumonia, chest pains and abdominal pain was given an overdose of colistin methanesulfonate — an antibiotic used to treat infections, according to the itemized report completed by the state public health department.

The patient told hospital physicians “The antibiotics are killing me” more than once.

The patient also complained of “dry mouth” and loss of motor ability.

As a result of the drug overdose, the patient developed acute renal failure, which means failure of the kidneys to adequately filter toxins and waste products from the blood.

The kidney specialist who administered the drug told investigators he misdiagnosed the situation, as he thought the patient received only one dose of colistin, according to the state report.

Patient risk
Two other hospitals in Los Angeles County were also among the 14 hospitals fined Thursday —  Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and Torrance Memorial Medical Center.

In all, the state’s public health department handed out $850,000 in fines.

Other hospitals hit with penalties include: Fresno Surgical Hospital, in Fresno; Kaiser Foundation Hospital, in South San Francisco; Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, in Palo Alto; San Francisco General Hospital, in San Francisco and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, in Santa Barbara.

A couple of hospitals were fined at least $100,000.

One of those hospitals hit with a more costly penalty is Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center, in Mission Viejo, in Orange County.

The state’s public health department, in issuing the fine, noted the hospital failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when the hospital did not follow its surgical policies and procedures.

Also receiving a $100,000 fine was Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, in La Jolla, in San Diego County.
Surgical mistakes

Scripps failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when the hospital did not follow its surgical policies and procedures.

As a result, the patient underwent a second surgery to remove a retained foreign object.

Department officials note in their report of Thursday’s fines that the fine against Scripps is the sixth such administrative penalty issued to that facility.

Other hospitals fined for failing to remove a retained foreign object during surgery are Sutter Solano Medical Center, in Vallejo, Solano County and Ventura County Medical Center, in Ventura.

Hospitals fined for $75,000 include: St. Jude Medical Center, in Fullerton and UCSF Medical Center, in San Francisco.

The state was allowed to assess bigger fines after new legislation took effect Jan. 1, 2009.

Under the new provisions, an administrative penalty carries a fine of $50,000 for the first violation, $75,000 for the second and $100,000 for the third or subsequent violation by the licensee.

Incidents that occurred prior to 2009 are not counted in determining the amount of a fine.

Hospitals can appeal their penalties by requesting a hearing within 10 calendar days of notification. If a hearing is requested, the penalties must be paid if upheld following an appeal.


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