The California Department of Public Health recently issued fines totaling $785,000 to ten hospitals that reported medical errors resulting in serious injury or death to patients. The incidents, which occurred in 2010 and 2011, include leaving objects inside of surgical patients, administering the wrong medication and removing the wrong kidney.
Debby Rogers, deputy director of the Center for Healthcare Quality at the department, says that the public fines are intended to help reduce the incidence of serious mistakes in the California medical industry, as well as to increase consumer awareness of potentially problematic healthcare providers. For example, one hospital – the UC San Francisco Medical Center – received its sixth fine since 2007, a rate of error that Rogers calls “obviously concerning”. In response, hospital officials have reported efforts to retrain staff on certain procedures, lighten nurse workload and streamline the electronic health records system to increase safety in the facility.
Newly proposed regulations will allow the state to raise the amount of penalties imposed for each subsequent violation, beginning with an initial fine of $75,000 and rising to $100,000 for the second and $125,000 for the third. Additionally, the state hopes to impose fines for more minor errors that may not pose “immediate jeopardy” to patient safety.
For more information on the legal recourse available to those who have suffered from medical errors, visit hmlm.com. The attorneys at Hodes Milman can help you determine whether you have a case.