Local hospitals fined for negligence

There’s probably nothing more unnerving than coming out of surgery and having your doctor say, “Whoopsy.”

Four Bay Area hospitals will have to pay for their negligence to the tune of $275,000 in penalties. The fines were levied by the California Department of Public Health for noncompliance with policies and errors that could have resulted in serious injury or death for their patients.

In our first “Oh God, please never let that be me” incident, Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco medical center was fined $75,000 for allegedly forgetting a sponge inside a patient during an emergency C-section.

In our second “OW!” moment, San Francisco’s Chinese Hospital was fined $50,000 for failing to follow procedures relating to the insertion of feeding tubes.

Other offenses occurred at Kaiser’s Oakland Medical Center ($75,000) for not following procedures related to its cardiac paging system, and at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center ($75,000) in San Jose for failing to provide ongoing assessment of a patient.

Penalties for violations that occurred in 2009 or later are tiered, and begin at $50,000 for the first incident. Second violations increase to $75,000, and then $100,000 for further mishaps.

CDPH Deputy Director Debby Rogers told BCN:

“Our goal at the Department of Public Health is to improve the quality of healthcare at all California hospitals.”

According to Rogers, CDPH officials hope to increase penalties by $25,000 each year by 2013.

In addition to the four local hospitals that were fined yesterday, nine other hospitals throughout the state were issued $550,000 in penalties for similar violations. All hospitals are allowed to appeal the CDPH’s findings.