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Scripps Memorial Hospital fined for leaving object inside patient

City News Service

Scripps Memorial Hospital has been fined $100,000 by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for leaving an object inside a surgical patient, requiring a second operation to remove the item.

The La Jolla hospital was one of 14 hospitals fined around the state. None of the others are in San Diego County.

According to the CDPH, a 2.5-centimeter-long pin was left inside the woman’s cervical spine during an operation in October 2010 and when X-rays were taken before the end of the surgery, the object was partially hidden behind another piece of surgical equipment.

The agency blamed the hospital for incorrect reading of the X-rays, or inadequate communication of their results to the surgeon.

After the operation, the woman complained of discomfort, of feeling something stuck in her throat, something moving in her neck and difficulty breathing, according to a CDPH report.

Another round of X-rays discovered the pin, which was removed in a second operation. The woman suffered difficulty swallowing and hoarseness in her speech for a time, but eventually recovered.

A statement from the hospital said, Scripps deeply regrets this event. As a result, we have made improvements, including changes to our count and X-ray processes, to prevent events such as this from occurring in the future. At Scripps, we treat hundreds of thousands of patients each year with excellent outcomes. On the rare occasion where an error occurs, we work to understand the underlying cause and improve the quality of our care.”

The incident was the sixth incident self-reported by Scripps to the CDPH since 2007.