14 California hospitals penalized for patient safety compliance violations

Dive Brief:

  • Earlier this month, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) disclosed it has penalized 14 hospitals in the state for failures to comply with licensing requirements. These violations either caused or were likely to cause serious injury, or worse, to patients.
  • Hospitals in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties were fined amounts ranging from $28,500 to $100,000 each for failing to follow relevant policies and procedures. The disclosed fines totaled $913,550.
  • Nearly half of the hospitals have received at least two “immediate jeopardy” administrative penalties prior to this.

Dive Insight:

The adoption of EHRs may be helping to improve safety, but human errors continue to plague healthcare interactions.

The California hospitals’ violations often led to dramatic patient events, Becker's Hospital Review reported. For example, a pregnant patient received the wrong medication and had to have an emergency cesarean section, patient mishandling led to suicide attempts, foreign objects were left in patients after surgery, a failure to provide oxygen and cardiac monitoring led to a patient with chest pain who died. 

Unfortunately, these hospitals are hardly alone. Leapfrog, in its 2016 Hospital Safety Grade Program, gave approximately 43 percent of 2,633 hospitals a grade of C or lower. The ECRI Institute recently reported that providers often misidentify patients during such processes as registration and electronic data entry, as well as during actual diagnostic and care procedures.

The ECRI Institute maintains that most patient errors can be prevented. But the proportion of the hospitals investigated by the CDPH that have received multiple penalties suggests that many facilities have serious, persistent patient safety problems. For example, of the 14 hospitals fined by the CDPH, Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego received its fifth immediate jeopardy administrative penalty and a $100,000 fine.

Filed Under: Health Law Hospital Administration
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