Scripps Memorial among hospitals fined for not protecting patient safety

City News Service

Scripps Memorial Hospital, Scripps Encinitas and three other hospitals in San Diego County were assessed penalties Thursday by the California Department of Public Health for failing to follow policies that ensure patient safety.

The CDPH announced they were among 12 medical centers around the state that were cited.

In the Scripps Memorial Hospital case, the hospital was was fined $75,000 for leaving a 28-inch guide wire for a medical device inside an 82-year-old patient's right femoral artery for 29 days in April and May of 2009.

Scripps Encinitas Medical Center was fined $50,000 for leaving a piece of medical equipment inside the abdomen of a 66-year-old woman who underwent surgery on April 16, 2010. She had to have a second operation to remove the device.

ScrippsHealth officials issued the following response: "Scripps believes strongly in doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our patients. In 2009 and 2010, we discovered and self-reported to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) the unfortunate incidents that resulted in the penalties mentioned in the CDPH’s statement today."

It said La Jolla incident "involved a retained angioplasty guide wire, which was discovered during a follow-up procedure and uneventfully removed."

The statement also said Scripps "self-reported both incidents, and notified the patient and their families. In both cases, the patient was unharmed. We have put in place changes in our processes to prevent events such as these from occurring in the future."

Other county hospitals cited were:

• Palomar Medical Center was fined $75,000 for the Feb. 9, 2010, death of a cancer patient who received a dose of morphine 33 times stronger than she was supposed to receive. The CDPH found errors in programming a pump that delivered the drug to the woman.

PPH officials released a response that reads: "Complete and thorough reviews were completed for each incident and extensive action plans were identified to address the issues, All follow-up actions were completed and accepted by the California Department of Public Health.''

• Pomerado Hospital was fined $75,000 because a confused and agitated patient was left unattended on Jan. 31, 2010, and he got out of bed and fell, suffering skull fractures and bleeding within his brain. He died four days later.

Scripps' statement said, the case "involved a retractor that was discovered within one hour after a complex surgical procedure and was immediately removed."

• Sharp Memorial Hospital was fined $25,000 for the 2008 death of a heart attack patient given an overdose of a drug by a nurse the agency said was not competent to work in the intensive care unit.

The facilities can appeal within 10 days. Otherwise, they have to submit plans to correct the problems to prevent future incidents.



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