Nearly a dozen California hospitals -- including two in San Diego County -- have each been fined $25,000 for alleged regulation violations that caused injury or death to patients.
The CDPH assessed the penalties Thursday for failures in care, such as leaving sponges or other surgical tools inside patients. Other penalties were issued for failures in communication between hospital departments or inadequate nurse training.
According to the California Department of Public Health, Tri-City "failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when the hospital did not follow its policies and procedures for fall prevention." The CDPH reported that Sharp Chula Vista "failed to ensure the health and safety of a patient when the hospital did not follow its surgical policy and procedure. This resulted in a patient having to undergo a second surgery to remove a retained foreign object."
Later on Thursday, Sharp Chula Vista released the following statement:
"On Dec. 22, 2008, a Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center patient underwent a successful coronary heart bypass graft surgery. At the conclusion of the surgery, the team in the operating room noticed that a piece of surgical equipment, a small clip, was missing from their count. Every effort was made by the surgeon and the surgical team to locate the item in the patient's body and in the operating room before closing the patient, but the object was never found. All proper procedures were followed after the surgery, including numerous X-rays, none of which revealed the object's location. Shortly thereafter, the patient required additional surgery due to pre-existing medical conditions. Prior to the second surgery, a CT scan was performed, in which the surgical clip was located, hidden behind the patient's heart. During the course of the second surgery, the item was removed. The patient suffered no harm due to the object and was discharged.
"Consistent with regulations, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center notified the California Department of Health about the incident. A thorough internal investigation was performed that resulted in further enhancement of the communication process and a policy change that added an additional test to ensure objects are more easily identifiable and quickly located.
"Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center remains fully committed to patient safety and positive outcomes and will continue to follow procedures and implement process improvements to ensure the health and safety of all we serve. "
The other fined hospitals are in Alameda, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Mendocino and San Bernardino counties. They can appeal the citations within 10 days. All the hospitals must submit a plan of correction to the state, which outlines how the violations would be avoided in the future.