5 San Diego Hospitals Fined for Dangerous Errors

Five San Diego hospitals that endangered patient health and safety when failing to comply with state licensing requirements were fined a total of $300,000, the California Department of Public Health announced Thursday.

Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, and Pomerado Hospital in Poway were penalized $75,000, the highest fines among 12 in-state hospitals issued by CDPH.

Each of those three hospitals received at least one administrative penalty in the past.

Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas was also fined $50,000, and Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego was penalized $25,000.

The violatory incidents, as listed in official CDPH summary documents provided to hospitals, are as follows:

Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, April 16, 2010: A malleable retractor was  left inside a 66-year-old woman's stomach during a hemorrhoidectomy (removal of hemorrhoids).The flexible metal instrument was described as being approximately 12 inches long and 1 inch wide. Surgeons performed a second operation to remove the instrument.
Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, April 21, 2009: A 28-inch long guide wire was left inside an 82-year-old man's right femoral artery during a heart catheterization and was discovered 29 days later. The wire was removed during a second operation.

Palomar Medical Center, Feb. 9, 2010: A patient was transferred from Critical Care to the medical oncology floor with a three-channel IV (intravenous) pump. After reaching the medical oncology floor, a Registered Nurse re-programmed the IV pump to deliver morphine at 100 ml/hour, or 33 times more than the 3 ml/hour amount the patient was supposed to receive. The patient died at 5:10 p.m., 26 minutes after the IV infusion was stopped.

Pomerado Hospital, Jan. 31, 2010: Faculty left a patient with a documented history of "confusion and agitated behavior" unattended. The patient got out of bed and fell to the floor, suffering several skull fractures as well as internal brain bleeding. The patient died four days later after his condition declined.

Sharp Memorial Hospital, June 4, 2008: A congestive heart failure patient died after receiving 3.6 times more medication (Minnone) than the prescribed dosage. 

Of the 12 hospitals, Pomerado Medical Center was the only one to be issued its third administrative penalty.

Each hospital submitted to CDPH a plan of correction to prevent recurrences in failed compliances. Ten days are permitted to appeal. 

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