Four San Diego hospitals have been fined a total of $275,000 for mistakes in patient care that caused, or were likely to cause, serious injury or death.
The penalties were announced Thursday by the state department of public health.
Statewide, a total of nine hospitals were penalized, and could be forced to pay total fines of $550,000.
In San Diego, Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla was fined twice: Once for an operating room incident in which a doctor inserted the wrong end of a catheter into a patient's spine. Also at Scripps Green, an unsterilized surgical tool was used in the operating room, exposing 11 patients to possible infection.
At Rady Children's Hospital, a pharmacist dispensed a more potent form of a medication than was requested by the doctor. That medicine was mistakenly given to a child being treated for cerebral palsy.
Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside was penalized for allowing a fire to break out in one of the hospital's operating rooms, causing burns on a patient's face.
At Pomerado Hospital in Poway, a gravely disabled patient hit his head on the floor and later died after the chair he was sitting in tipped over.
Most of these patient care errors happened last year. The hospitals can appeal the penalties.
The Department of Public Health said these penalties, and public disclosure of the details of the errors, is prompting hospitals to improve patient safety.
"I also feel as though hospitals understand their obligation to their patients and to their community, and they are actively addressing many of these concerns," said Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of the department's center for health-care quality.
The San Diego hospitals stress that they voluntarily reported these errors to the state agency and have put in place new policies and procedures to prevent futures errors.