Kaiser among 14 hospitals fined $850K for patient safety violations

Fourteen California hospitals, including Kaiser, face a combined $825,000 in fines for not complying with requirements that prevent patient safety risks, including foreign objects left in surgical patients, the California Department of Public Health reported yesterday.

Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco, which accounted for three of the violations, also received fines in June for risking patient safety.

A Kaiser Foundation Hospital representative said it updated medication administration policies at its San Francisco facility and retrained peri-operative staff on certain procedures, KTVU reported.

Since 2007, roughly 27 percent of the 235 penalties imposed on California hospitals involved foreign objects left in surgical patients, the Ventura County Star reported.

Several hospitals in the state face penalties for such surgical errors. For example, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco received its first penalty, a $50,000 fine for a retained foreign object.

Similarly, St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton faces a $100,000 fine for leaving a gauze pad in a patient undergoing a bilateral mastectomy case; the gauze pad was later removed without reopening the incision in a post-surgical doctor's visit, The Orange County Register reported.

"While this incident did not create a life-threatening situation or have short- or long-term effects for the patient, it certainly does not meet our standard of care," St. Jude said in a statement. The hospital also said it has adopted a radio frequency tracking system to monitor surgical sponges used during operations and deliveries.

According to the California Department of Public Health, there's a proposal to bump up each level of fines by $25,000 next year, KTVU noted.

To learn more:
- here's the statement from the health department
- check out the KTVU article
- read the Ventura County Star article
- here's the article from the Orange County Register